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Somebody Stop Me: Blackhawks 4, Sabres 3 (OT)

Blackhawks cap off their longest homestand of the year with a big comeback win.

Buffalo Sabres v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Buffalo Sabres in overtime at the United Center on Tuesday by a final score of 4-3.

The Blackhawks got the scoring started nine minutes in when Connor Murphy roofed one cleanly past Craig Anderson. A Sabres broken stick led to an extended cycle for the Toews line: a nice move by Philip Kurshev to drive toward the goal let Murphy activate from the post and Kurashev found him in stride off a nice, cross ice look.

Buffalo responded four minutes later when Casey Mittelstadt forced a turnover along the boards. Tyson Jost drove to the net — the theme of the first period — and when the puck rolled on him, Victor Olofsson was waiting to slam it home and tie the game 1-1.

With the first period winding down, the Sabres kept the pressure on the Blackhawks in their own zone until Jeff Skinner found some space, headed for the goal, and passed to Tage Thompson. He made a nice move to tuck home his 32nd goal and make it 2-1 Sabres with 6.9 seconds left.

The second period started with another extended cycle for the Toews line.

Jack Johnson picked up an early boarding penalty on Skinner, and during the kill, Kurashev’s nice forecheck led to a puck recovery. Kurashev tipped the puck out to a streaking Sam Lafferty for a shorthanded breakaway-ish shot that Craig Anderson stopped.

Buffalo was called for too many men not long after. During their kill, the puck jumped Max Domi’s stick as he tried to pull it off the wall, and Peyton Krebs found himself off to the races. Krebs made a nice forehand, backhand move then elevated the puck over Mrazek’s glove for his first career shorthanded goal.

The Blackhawks had a few solid looks late in the period that ultimately yielded nothing and they left for the third trailing by a score of 3-1.

The third period started with — somebody stop me — another extended cycle in the Sabres zone by the Toews line.

The puck found Seth Jones at the point, and he did a great job picking a shooting lane for his seeing-eye snapshot, but even more impressive was the tip in front of Anderson by Kurashev (who was feeling it all night).

With just under a minute remaining and the Hawks on a 6-on-5 in the Sabres zone, the puck was worked to Jones on the point and once again he was able to find a lane and fire a slapper through traffic that beat Anderson thanks to a Tyler Johnson screen.

There was a brief review to confirm whether or not T. Johnson bumped Anderson before the puck went in, but the goal call was confirmed and the late goal forced both teams to overtime tied 3-3.

The Blackhawks won 4-3 in overtime after a give and go between S. Jones and T. Johnson lead to a S. Jones backhand that snuck past Anderson 2:24 into extra hockey.

Notes

  • First and foremost: the Sabres absolutely deserved to lose just for wearing that horrible reverse retro jersey/shorts combo that looks like old man’s pajamas.
  • The Blackhawks can thank the Toews line for letting them hang around long enough to make the comeback. They were the only line with positive possession numbers, and they had numerous extended cycles that wore out the Buffalo D.
  • Speaking of that Buffalo D, they were active all night: clogging the neutral zone, carrying the puck up whenever they wanted and entering the Hawks zone with ease. Their aggressive pinching at the blue line also led to quite a few odd man rushes for the Hawks — none of which they converted — but that’s a story for a game they don’t win.
  • Charts say the Blackhawks best period was the second, but they definitely turned it on the back half of the third. In addition to the T. Johnson post they had a couple deflections that went just wide.
  • The Sabres are tied for 2nd in the NHL with 12 empty net goals this season, but the closest they got was when Mrazek did his best Stalock tribute and wandered to three-fourths the way out to the blue line to play the puck.
  • I hate the “young teams need to learn how to win” narrative as much as the next person, but the Sabres have to feel like they let this one slip away. That’s a game that a team fighting for a wildcard spot absolutely has to have.
  • That being said, it must be nice to have a team full of young, fun players to watch. The Sabres are at the point now where their prospects are graduating into legit players (that Dahlin and Owen Power backend is going to be nasty for the next decade) and that’s something the Hawks will cross their fingers in hopes of emulating the next few years.
  • Phil Kurashev had himself a game. He was all over the ice making plays and was rewarded with a multi-point night for it.
  • S. Jones had himself a third period. After skating the fewest minutes of any defenseman in the first (yet still being on the ice for both goals against) he had maybe the best and most active period I can remember from him in quite some time in the third. On the broadcast Colby Cohen said he’s been doing extra work at practice on getting his point shots through and tonight it paid off in a big, big way.
  • The Blackhawks finish their longest homestand of the year at 4-3 and all of the sudden they’ve won 4 of their last 5 games.

Game Charts

Three stars

  1. Seth Jones — 2 G (OT GWG), 1 A
  2. Philipp Kurashev — 1 G, 2 A
  3. Petr Mrazek — 30 saves, including some big stops to keep them in it in the third

What’s next

The Blackhawks get a day off before heading to Philadelphia to face the Flyers on Thursday at 7 p.m.