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Blackhawks vs. Sabres preview: Chicago aims for fourth straight win

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Scott Darling will start as Chicago needs one win to become the best road team in franchise history.

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Sean Rudyk/Getty Images

Scott Darling will get the start and Patrick Kane will travel with the team as the Chicago Blackhawks visit the Buffalo Sabres on Friday at the First Niagara Center.

Chicago (47-24-6) mounted a third-period comeback to edge the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 and have been rolling ever since. The Blackhakws picked up wins over the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks to reach 100 points for the fifth time since 2008-09, and after clinching their seventh consecutive playoff berth Thursday, they sit three points back of first-place Nashville with a game in hand.

[MORE: Blackhawks playoff picture: April 3]

The Blackhawks are 10-3-1 during their past 14 games. Chicago posted a 23-14-1 record, tying the single season road wins mark from 2009-10.

In the absence of Kane, Hawks captain Jonathan Toews has picked up his offense with three goals in his last four games. He scored the go-ahead tally in Thursday's 3-1 victory over the Canucks for his 64th point of the season, tying Kane for the team lead.

[MORE: Teuvo Teravinen carving out a niche on the fourth line]

The Blackhawks scored four times in the third period to win their sixth straight game in the series against Buffalo, 6-2, on Oct. 11 at the United Center.

Darling is 8-3-0 on the season with a 1.77 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in 12 games (11 starts) this season. He has posted a 0.37 GAA in three appearances this month, and will face Buffalo for the first time in his career.

Here are the lines from Thursday's game:

Versteeg Toews Hossa
Sharp Richards Vermette
Bickell Shaw Saad
Desjardins Kruger Teravainen

Opponent Breakdown: Buffalo Sabres

Much to the dismay of their fan base, the Sabres have won two straight, beating fellow cellar teams Arizona Coyotes and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Should the Sabres clinch the lowest point total, they would have a league-best 20 percent chance at winning the NHL Draft Lottery, and at worst would receive the second selection.

Buffalo saw the return of Tyler Ennis, their leading scorer, to the lineup in Wednesday's 4-3 win over Toronto after he sat out two games because of injury. Ennis is one goal of shy becoming the Sabres first 20-goal scorer this season. He leads the club with 173 shots on goal. Matt Moulson paces the team with 27 assists, and has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in his last 11 games. Buffalo captain Brian Gionta has recorded 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in his last nine games.

Andrews Lindback will get the start in net as the Sabres look for their first win against the Hawks since Dec. 11, 2009. Lindback is 1-2-0 in three prior meetings with a 4.01 GAA and .872 save percentage against Chicago.

Injury Report

ChicagoPatrick Kane (collarbone) and Joakim Nordstrom (upper-body)

Buffalo: Rasmus Ristolainen (illness), Matt Hackett (soreness), Jerry D'Amigo (facial surgery), Chad Johnson (lower-body), Zemgus Girgensons (foot), Josh Gorges (lower-body), Evander Kane (shoulder) and Cody McCormick

Game Information

When: 6 p.m. CT

Where: First Niagara Center

TV: CSN

Radio: WGN-720

For Chicago Blackhawks tickets, check out Ticketmaster. Follow Second City Hockey on Twitter at @2ndCityHockey and Like us on Facebook. You can follow Brandon Cain on Twitter at @BrandonMCain.