The Chicago Blackhawks streak of strong play while missing Patrick Sharp continued as the rookies once again led the way to victory.
Captain Jonathan Toews continued his incredible season with two goals, both on the power play. He now has a Western Conference-leading 26 goals on the season, won 11 of 17 faceoffs and added three takeaways as well.
Andrew Shaw opened the scoring for Chicago with a great play just after a Buffalo penalty ended. He was also credited with an assist on Toews’ first goal and three hits in the game, and played well on both special teams.
Jimmy Hayes had a fantastic night as well. He finished a gorgeous pass from Andrew Brunette in the second period, and dropped a puck between his legs to Dave Bolland that wound up in the back of the net as well. In the game, Hayes wound up with the goal, assist and two hits.
Hayes would have had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick if Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta didn’t turtle on the invitation to drop the gloves from the rookie. Kaleta, not to be confused with Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa, only fights people smaller than him or unsuspecting opponents.
It’s hard to imagine that, in a 6-2 win, arguably the best play of the night didn’t count. Late in the second period, Shaw caught a puck that had popped into the air by the side of the net, dropped it to his stick and touched it over the leg of Jhonas Enroth to the open stick of Marcus Kruger for a should-have-been tally.
Bolland had a goal and an assist in the game, giving him six goals and four assists in nine games in January, and three multi-point games since Sharp went down. He also won eight of 13 faceoffs in the game.
Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook each had two assists in the game. Keith also had a team-leading three blocked shots in the game. Kruger had a team-high four hits in the game.
Marian Hossa was credited with the game-winner, his 18th, on a great feed by Keith while the Sabres made a lazy change.
Corey Crawford had a strong night, stopping 25 of 27 shots. Chicago scored on two of four power play opportunities, and killed three of Buffalo’s four advantages.
The Blackhawks are now 4-0-1 without Sharp, and have scored 22 goals in the five games.