At least the big boys showed up on Saturday afternoon.
Back in Patrick Kane’s home town on St. Patrick’s Day, the Blackhawks took the ice early in the afternoon against the Sabres in a matchup of teams battling for draft lottery position.
In a relatively uneventful first period, Benoit Pouliot gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead 18 minutes into the game. Both teams put 12 shots on net in the first, and the Hawks had the only power play.
If the first period was boring, the second was anything but that.
At 8:15 into the second, Kane made one of those plays that not many players in the NHL can pull off and the game was tied.
Jordan Oesterle was on the receiving end of that filthy pass and put home his fifth of the year. Jonathan Toews picked up the second assist on the goal.
Chicago took two penalties in the second, with Vinnie Hinostroza – taken while Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen was in their box – and Tomas Jurco heading to the box. The Oesterle goal came while Hinostroza and Ristolainen were sitting. While Jurco sat, the Sabres took advantage as Ryan O’Reilly scored his 20th of the year.
Jurco returned to the ice after his penalty and made up for his error, tying the game at two.
The Hawks out-shot the Sabres 17-6 in the second period and the teams carried a tie score into the third.
Chicago quickly got after it in the third. On the first shift, Toews pushed home a loose rebound for his 20th of the season to give the Hawks a 3-2 lead.
Brandon Saad and Kane picked up assists on the Toews goal, giving the Hawks’ top line five points on the Hawks first three goals.
The lead didn’t last two minutes, however. Nicholas Baptiste tied the game at 2:17 into the third.
With six seconds left on a Brent Seabrook penalty, Baptiste scored his second of the game to give Buffalo a 4-3 lead with 1:56 left in regulation.
With JF Berube on the bench for the extra attacker, Nick Schmaltz tried to make a move at the blue line and was it didn’t work. O’Reilly stole the puck and set up Sam Reinhart, who scored into the empty net to make the score 5-3.
And for the first time in the last 13 games between the to franchises, the Buffalo Sabres beat the Kane’s Chicago Blackhawks. The last time Buffalo beat Chicago was in 2009.