There was no way a half-ass performance by the Blackhawks was going to cost them two points on Friday night.
Not if Jonathan Toews had anything to say about it.
The Blackhawks scored twice in the game’s first nine minutes to take a commanding lead. Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp scored their tenth and 15th goals, respectively, in the game’s opening 20 minutes as the Hawks out-shot the cellar dwelling Sabres 12-11.
With that would-be commanding lead and a playoff spot secure, the Blackhawks appeared to stop caring for 38 minutes.
Marcus Foligno, who was riding a 23-game goal drought coming in, cut the lead in half in the second period and, after a power play goal from Johan Larsson in the early third, Foligno added a go-ahead goal with a little more than seven minutes remaining in regulation. Chicago allowed 16 shots on net in the second period and 11 more in the third as the Sabres jumped all over the Blackhawks – to the dismay of their home fans.
Scott Darling got the start and made 35 saves, keeping an uninspired team in front of him in the game long enough for Toews to steal the win late in regulation.
Toews scored twice in 47 seconds inside the final two minutes of the game to give Chicago’s captain 28 goals on the season. He also won 13 of 19 faceoffs in 19 minutes of ice time.
Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw each picked up two assists in the win, while Marian Hossa, Brad Richards and David Rundblad each picked up one helper on the night. Shaw finished tied with Andrew Desjardins for the team lead with two hits; Desjardins added five penalty minutes to the ledger after dropping the gloves for the first time in his Blackhawks career.
Keith led the Blackhawks with four blocked shots with his first period goal. His goal put him into double digits in goal scoring for the first time since he set a career-high with 14 in the 2009-10 season.