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Blackhawks return from NHL All-Star break to face Sabres

Patrick Kane looks to score his 900th career point in his hometown of Buffalo.

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

The Blackhawks will be back in action for the first time in 10 days Friday night when they visit the Sabres in Buffalo.

Chicago went 3-7 in January, a tough stretch that ended on a high note with a 3-2 shootout win over the Islanders on Jan. 22 for back-to-back wins. Coming into Friday’s game, the Blackhawks rank 29th in the league, just two points ahead of the Senators for last place, and 7th place in the Central Division, trailing the Blues by four points.

Friday’s game could be a milestone night for Patrick Kane, who sits one point shy of 900 for his NHL career. The Buffalo native currently riding a nine-game point streak, with 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists). In 15 career games against his hometown team, Kane has racked up 17 points (eight goals, nine assists).

Jonathan Toews and Alex DeBrincat fall in behind Kane, who leads the team in points, goals, and assists. Toews has six points in his last two games, and DeBrincat holds a three-game point streak.

The Blackhawks defense will have a different look to it after rookie blue liner Henri Jokiharju was assigned to the AHL on Thursday. The move opens up a roster spot for Gustav Forsling (upper-torso) to make his return after being out seven games. Forward Brendan Perlini (concussion), who has missed two games, remains out.

Brandon Saad will be skating in his 500th NHL game Friday, split between the Blackhawks and Columbus in eight seasons. He has 294 points (140 goals, 154 assists) and two Stanley Cup rings with the Blackhawks through his young career.

Rookie goaltender Collin Delia has been excellent since stepping on an “emergency basis” for the injured Corey Crawford (concussion), posting a .923 save percentage and 3.00 goals-against average in 10 games. Cam Ward, who was in the supposed starter’s net during Thursday’s practice, has a .888 save percentage and a 3.87 goals against average through 21 games this season.

Since the NHL All-Star break, the Sabres have played just two games: a gutsy 5-4 win over the Blue Jackets on Tuesday, and a 1-0 loss to the Stars on Wednesday. They currently sit three points out of the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, held by Columbus with 59 points.

Buffalo captain Jack Eichel leads the way offensively with 53 points, with Jeff Skinner and Sam Reinhart following close behind at 45 points each. Skinner has a team-high 31 goals, 15 more than Eichel’s 16 goals.

Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark has been a dynamic duo in net for the Sabres, with an average .913 save percentage and 2.81 GAA in a combined 52 games between the two of them. Hutton is likely to get the start against the Blackhawks.

*Lineups will be updated, as needed

Projected Lineups


Caggiula — Toews — Kane

DeBrincat — Strome — Kahun

Saad — Kampf —Kruger

Kunitz — Anisimov — Hayden

Keith — Seabrook

*Forsling — Murphy

Koekkoek — Gustafsson




Skinner — EichelReinhart

Sheary — Mittelstadt — Rodrigues

Elie — Sobotka — Thompson

Girgensons —Larsson — Okposo

McCabe — Ristolainen

Dahlin — Bogosian

Scandella — Beaulieu



How to Watch

When: 6 p.m. Central, Friday

Where: KeyBank Center, Buffalo

TV: NBC Sports Chicago