Well, that was something.
In last night's recap, I noted that I was more concerned with the Chicago Blackhawks knocking off the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night than against Vancouver on Thursday night. That absolutely turned out to be the case, as the Hawks needed a couple of late goals from Jonathan Toews in order to survive the league's worst club on the road.
It certainly looked as if the Hawks were ready to trounce the Sabres and head right back out of Buffalo after laying waste to them on the scoreboard. The Hawks put a 2-0 lead up on the board early on, with goals coming from Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp.
Keith scored barely two minutes into the game, while Patrick Sharp laid some nice move on opposing players and sniped a gorgeous shot that bounced in after Anders Lindback couldn't quite handle it. The Blackhawks outshot Buffalo 12-11 for the period, and took a 20-13 Corsi advantage in the opening frame.
And then, in what was perhaps the most predictable series of events, the Hawks took their foot off the gas. That allowed the Sabres to not only get back into this one, but eventually build up a lead as well.
The Sabres struck once in the second half of the middle period, with Marcus Foligno scoring on the backhand, and outshot the Hawks 16-12 overall. Buffalo went on to even things up on the power play, and Foligno added another to give the Sabres the lead, and send the entirety of both fanbases going into a panic.
Then Jonathan Toews happened.
With the net empty in the last two minutes of the third period, Toews cleaned up a rebound in front of the net, with Lindback scrambling to get control of the puck. Less than a minute later, Toews took a pass from Brandon Saad on a 2-on-1, with Toews easily flipping it past Lindback for the 4-3 lead and the eventual win.
The two points were crucial for the Blackhawks, with the St. Louis Blues also in action against the Dallas Stars. As of this publishing,
they were tied at three the Stars were up 5-3. Failure to secure two points on the part of St. Louis on Friday night would leave the Hawks ahead of them in the Central Division race. They're just one point behind the Nashville Predators as well now, with both teams at 78 games.
As inevitable as a first round date with the Blues seems, there's still a lot more to be done. We'll get a preview of that potential series when the two sides square off at the United Center on Sunday evening.
Onto the stars...
Three Stars of the Night
3-1. Jonathan Toews
I did this with Corey Crawford a couple of weeks ago, so it's probably too cheesy to do it twice, but I don't actually care. Late in the third period, Toews just decided that he had enough and put the Blackhawks squarely on his shoulders and carried them to the win. His offense has certainly seen an uptick in recent weeks, and that was on display on Friday. You hate to have to see him do it against a team like the Sabres, but the fact that he did it was, nonetheless, tremendous. He finished with a CF% of 68
Randy Holt is a staff writer for Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.