Corey Crawford, Blackhawks Outduel Sabres

Ryan Miller survived an onslaught through the first two periods and kept the Buffalo Sabres close, but Corey Crawford was good enough to earn a hard-fought victory on Saturday night at the United Center.

Toews Miller

The Blackhawks put 37 shots on net in the first 40 minutes, many of which were quality scoring changes, but Miller was up to the challenge. He allowed only two goals, to Ben Smith and Patrick Kane, and helped the Sabres survive two of three penalty kills in the first two periods.

Kane’s goal came on a power play with less than one minute remaining in the second period and was his fourth of the young season. Patrick Sharp directed a gorgeous pass though traffic in front of the net to a wide-open Kane, who deposited the puck behind Miller for the eventual game-winner.

In the third period, it was Crawford’s turn to stand on his head. The Hawks put only three shots on net in the final 20 minutes, while the Sabres attack put 13 at Crawford. Drew Stafford beat Crawford for Buffalo’s only tally at 11:49, but Crawford held strong against a desperate attack to earn the victory.

On the night, Crawford stopped 28 of 29 shots.

One night after a stronger performance, Marian Hossa had another very good effort. He led the Blackhawks with six takeaways with four shots on net and one blocked shot. Kane was credited with four takeaways against his hometown Sabres and led the team with six shots on net.

Bryan Bickell also made an impact (for the first time this year). He led the team with four hits, including a big (legal) hit on Cody Hodgson to prevent a scoring chance early in the game. Bickell saw some shifts back with Jonathan Toews and Kane, but was again limited to under 14 minutes of ice time.

In his first NHL action of the season, Brandon Pirri spent the night with the Hawks’ fourth line and held his own between Brandon Bollig and Smith. He was credited with one shot on net, one blocked shot and one takeaway while winning six of ten faceoffs in 9:29 on the ice.

Pirri helped the Blackhawks dominate at the dot even without Michal Handzus out of the lineup. Toews won 13 of 21 draws in the game, but Andrew Shaw improved to win five of eight and Sharp also won four of five.

The Department of Player Safety will likely give Buffalo “captain” Steve Ott a call after he boarded Ben Smith in the first period. Smith took some time to get up after the play and left the bench for a few moments, but returned to the game and contributed 43 seconds to the penalty kill unit.

Chicago’s penalty kill, which came into Saturday night ranked dead last in the NHL, was perfect against three Buffalo power plays. Two of the three penalties were cut short by stupid Sabres penalties, though; Ott’s boarding play came while Buffalo had an advantage, and Hodgson was called for tripping only 41 seconds into a Marcus Kruger penalty in the second.

The Blackhawks power play was 1-5 in the game; Chicago has now scored a goal with a man advantage in four of the team’s first five games to start the season.

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8 Responses to Corey Crawford, Blackhawks Outduel Sabres

  1. Mike says:

    Tab, thanks for the summary. I will say again, the weakest part of the Hawks game is playing with a lead. Sabers get almost half their shots in the 3d while Hawks got 3. I know teams play with more urgency when behind, but come on, these are the Sabers.

    I liked the callups and think Smith should stay. Pirri afforded himself well and I hope he gets a decent shot at staying up. Brookbank….I am hoping the brass is playing him to attract a trade. So far I have seen no reason the Hawks need to keep him. Rosy, Kostka and if needed Clendening will be fine.

    Icehogs got waxed last nite but Clendening had a pretty strong game again. Hayes had a tough nite

  2. Peter says:

    Guys,
    I don’t get to watch most games because I am out of market (and don’t have Verizon and want to stay married). I see Shaw crashed the net on the PP during Sharp’s incredible feed to Kane. Do we have a different PP formation/play called from the first few games or was that look a function of the action on the ice? Thanks.

  3. EbonyRaptor says:

    Peter – Shaw and Bickell both play on the PP and their main function is to screen the goalie and look for rebounds. Usually Bickell is on the first PP unit, and Shaw is on the second. Nothing really new (unfortunately, although they did score a PP goal last night). It looks like they have more player movement but it’s not consistent and it usually looks like the opponent’s defensive alignment dictates what the Hawks do instead of the Hawks PP playing with enough crispness and purpose to dictate the play. But … at least it looks a little better lately.

    BTW – I can’t recall another two games in a row where the Hawks dominated the play to the point where the games should have been blowouts only to barely squeek out victories like they did against the Islanders and Sabres. There were quite a few times in those games where they should have been playing Sweet Georgia Brown over the UC audio system, followed by Chelsea Dagger. The Hawks should have beed padding their stats, instead they were squeezing their sticks and padding the opposing goalie’s stats. Mercy – as I said in the GDT last night – I don’t know if my ole ticker can take 77 more of those.

  4. wall says:

    Peter- the PP goal came off of a scramble type play…
    But interestingly… the Formation they were in was a 1-3-1 set (by accident- I believe)
    65 net, 10 LW , 19 between circles (covered by Weak side forward) leaving a completely open 88 on RW!!! Hawks need to “Morph” into that set more often!

    ER- I see it the same way… Hawks have dominated – but aren’t finishing – especially 10/81… Saad to… these three could easily have 3-4 goals each. Timing/chemistry seems to be a tad off.

    Good news is 81 finally had a decent game- great D side…
    Other Good news- 1st time 16 actually looked good/like he belonged with 10/81.
    I still don’t like him finishing for 10/81- but at least he looked good setting them up!

    Pirri is slow- and gives up too easily on D/boards- was only confirmed… but might work for 10 minutes on 4th line.

    If things at 2nd center don’t go well- I honestly think we might see 42 there at some point… but 16 did great (other than FO’s) last nite.

  5. Pirri? From my seat last night he looked, not surprisingly, slow. I’ve said if from the beginning this kid is not good enough either offensively, defensively or skill set wise to be anything more than a stopgap until Danault arrives. He is little more than a non-exciting serviceable 4th line Center type on a non-playoff team. Danault will be the piece that can consistently feed Sharp and Hossa the puck while doing the dirty two way play at Center in complement to Zeus. Danault is dismissed by some people because they don’t see wondrous goal scoring ability…that’s a mistake to label this true talent’s future because of that.

    Nordstrom? I’m giddy when I see this kid skate, move the puck and back check. Already the most underrated player on the Hawks despite being very raw and prone to mistakes. But Bowman once again gets a gold star for his keen scouting and player development skills on Nordstrom. He is solid. Going to be an invaluable specialist on this team.

    Hjalmarsson? Let me just say this…it is time for his name to be mentioned when considering Norris Trophy candidates in the NHL. Chuckle all you want.

    Crawford? Rock solid last night against a desperate Buffalo club. He only had two questionable saves (one thanks to iron where he was late stick side), but otherwise very solid.

  6. Morrison says:

    ER, Yea we dominated those 3 games (TB too) to the tune of 5-2, 4-2, 6-1 but the scores were 2-2, 3-2, 2-1. Your right that goal totals should be 23-9 right now. I always remember what Steeger said, we dont care what the score is we just want to win. (although he was referring to high scoring games like 6-4…)

    We ve had are top 3 gf & ga in same year moar than any team since ’05/capera, but I do like to have the score be what the game really was/how played.

  7. Tim G says:

    Absolutly pleased with the weekend. As its already been said, the play from ahead needs to be better, but you can really complain when you pull 2 W’s. I figured we would come out of the weekend looking good and now we got a quick trip down to carolina to look forward to. Bicks still looks like he is finding his game this year, although 19/88 seem to be hitting mid-season form early, so 29 shouldn’t be too far behind should he continue to get time with them. I though Pirri was decent. Nothing eye popping, but he did decent enough.

    Tuesday should be a good test. Carolina has dumped their last 2 (both at home), so i fully expect them to leave EVERYTHING on the ice. They have a 4 game road trip on the horizon, so you have to think they will try to give the home crowd a show.

  8. JS says:

    This whole opposing goalie playing insanely well against the Hawks better not be a season long trend. Ryan Miller played about as well as he has since the Olympics in 2010.

    I thought Pirri played a perfectly acceptable game. He isn’t the quickest/most agile and sometimes he looked like he gave up on plays, but he sees the ice pretty well and seems to have the ability to win faceoffs. The Hawks 4th line played a couple of pretty good shifts against the Sabers top line, so that has to mean something… unless you think Ben Smith and Brandon Bollig are carrying the weight.

    Crawford was pretty incredible. Seemed like on the goal that he gave up he was anticipating the shot coming faster and overslid and then it was just too late.

    Kruger looked really good between 10/81 and I was pretty surprised how well Hossa played for it being back to back. The move Kruger made behind the net where he passed it to himself off of the back of the goal was pretty awesome.

    The way Hawks have been dominating play they should start scoring a whole lot more pretty soon.

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