The Blackhawks got Marian Hossa back on Thursday night. They also remembered how to start a game with purpose.
Chicago put 20 shots on net in the first period; Buffalo put 20 shots on net in 61 minutes. Before the Sabres had a second shot on net, the Blackhawks had put 11 shots on Anders Nilsson – yes, the same Anders Nilsson who the Hawks acquired from the Islanders when Chicago traded Nick Leddy.
Unfortunately, Buffalo’s second shot came off the stick of Marcus Foligno. And got past Corey Crawford. And 7:21 into the game, the Blackhawks were chasing a goal.
The Foligno goal didn’t slow down the Blackhawks attack, and nine minutes later Ryan Hartman made scored a highlight reel goal.
Hartman’s seventh of the season tied the game at one, where it would remain through the end of the first period. Both goals in the opening 20 minutes were unassisted, and Nilsson did a great job of keeping his team in the game.
Chicago’s penalty kill, which had been the best in the NHL since the beginning of December, didn’t have a good night; the Hawks hadn’t allowed multiple power play goals in a game since Nov. 21. The Hawks took a dreaded too many men penalty at 17:37 into the second, and Kyle Okposo made them pay.
Buffalo’s first lead of the game lasted nine minutes. Their second lasted 18 seconds.
Artem Anisimov’s 17th of the season came with assists to Patrick Kane and Michal Kempny. Kempny had three points in his previous two games.
Brent Seabrook went to the box with eight seconds left in second period, and the Sabres were able to score a second power play goal 70 seconds into the third. Jack Eichel scored his eighth of the year to give Buffalo a 3-2 lead early in the third period, but the Blackhawks kept the pressure on Nilsson.
And, again, Anisimov tied the game.
On Anisimov’s second goal of the night, Duncan Keith picked up his 400th career regular season assist.
The final 2:04 would come and go without any additional scoring, and the fans in attendance at the United Center were treated to free hockey.
But they only received 56 seconds of free hockey, because Kane sent his hometown team packing.
Kane’s 12th of the season gave the Hawks a big home victory. Jonathan Toews, who won 10 of 18 faceoffs and was credited with six shots on net, was credited with an assist on the game-winner. Chicago’s captain was also credited with two hits and two takeaways in 20:35.
The Blackhawks put a season-high 43 shots on net. They allowed a season-low 20 shots on net. Crawford stopped 17 to earn a victory. Nilsson stopped 39 and suffered a loss.
Hartman and Tanner Kero led Chicago with four hits each. Niklas Hjalmarsson and Keith led Chicago with three blocked shots each. Kane led the Hawks with seven shots on net.