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Blackhawks lose to Sabres for first time since 2009

Chicago had won 12 straight games against Buffalo.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Buffalo Sabres Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since 2009, the Chicago Blackhawks lost to the Buffalo Sabres, as the hosts snapped a 12-game losing streak by beating the Hawks 5-3 on Saturday afternoon.

Trailing 1-0 after one period, the Hawks tied the game while skating 4-on-4, with Patrick Kane’s backhand pass cutting through the Buffalo defense and onto the tape of a wide-open Jordan Oesterle for a tap-in goal.

Chicago and Buffalo traded goals for the rest of the period. Ryan O’Reilly scored on a Sabres power play with 8:53 remaining, but Tomas Jurco was credited with a goal when his shot hit Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen and bounced into a gaping net, sending the teams into the second intermission in a 2-2 deadlock.

Just 20 seconds into the third period, an odd-man rush resulted in a Blackhawks goal when Jonathan Toews took a baseball hack at a rebound and smacked it into the net for a 3-2 Chicago lead:

Buffalo tied the game a few minutes later on a goal from Nicholas Baptiste, and Baptiste broke the 3-3 tie with a redirect of a point shot late in the third period. A Sam Reinhart empty-net goal provided the final margin of victory for Buffalo.

3 Thoughts

Turnovers at the blue line: still not a good idea

Nick Schmaltz has done a lot of things well in his second season, but that last turnover with a minute remaining that setup the Sabres’ fifth and final goal of the night can’t happen. Trying to toe drag around a defender in the high slot is probably going to end badly, especially when the net at the other end is empty. Schmaltz is a young player, and mistakes of youth can be forgiven. But it can’t become a habit.

I hope the Blackhawks open the next season with a Saad-Toews-Kane top line.

That trio combined for the third goal of the game, while the latter two were on the ice for the 4-on-4 goal scored by Oesterle in the second period. That line has produced at least one goal in each of the last four games, a stretch of scoring consistency that has been absent from Toews and Saad most of the season (and even Kane during that miserable February). Putting that trio back together on a top line to start the next season could help this team erupt for some big wins early on, and help Toews/Saad rebound from underwhelming 2017-18 seasons.

Tomas Jurco isn’t going to be back next season, is he?

I don’t say this as a definitive conclusion, but Jurco seems to be in his final games with Chicago. He was credited with a goal against Buffalo, but having a rebound bank in off a defenseman’s skate feels like a hollow victory. In 34 games with the Hawks (13 last season, 21 this season), he has just four goals and two assists for six points. Doesn’t feel like enough production for someone to earn a contract for next season, considering Jurco is already 25. And that offensive zone penalty he took on Saturday doesn’t seem to help his cause, either.

3 Stars

  1. Nick Baptiste (BUF) — 2 goals
  2. Sam Reinhart (BUF) — 1 goal, 2 assists
  3. Ryan O’Reilly (BUF) — 1 goal, 1 assist

Beer of the game: Today’s recap brought to you by Guinness, because of course it was.