Chicago Blackhawks (30-33-7-1) vs. Buffalo Sabres (22-36-10-2)
When: 1:00 PM ET, Saturday, March 17, 2018
Where: KeyBank Center, Buffalo, New York
Blackhawks Get Outdone By Jets
The Chicago Blackhawks (30-33-8) lost for the third time in their past four outings (1-3-0), dropping their sixth decision in the last nine games (3-6-0), after getting thrashed with a score of 6-2 by the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place on Thursday. After Brandon Saad (16 goals, 30 points this year) opened the scoring just 11 seconds into the game, the hosts responded with five consecutive goals until the first intermission, adding an empty-netter in the final third after Chicago managed to get a goal back in the second frame through Patrick Sharp (9 goals, 19 points).
Goalie Anton Forsberg (9-15-3 for the season with a 3.04 GAA and a .905 save percentage) conceded three goals on just six shots in the first nine-and-a-half minutes of play before being replaced by J-F Berube (2-3-0 on the year with a 3.48 GAA and a .904 save percentage), who gave up two strikes on 32 shots subsequently. Berube has lost his only previous start versus Buffalo, allowing three goals on 37 shots in a 3-2 overtime defeat for the New York Islanders in December 2016, as has Forsberg, who conceded four goals on 31 shots in a 4-2 loss for the Columbus Blue Jackets in February 2015. The Blackhawks are 13th both in least goals scored per game (2.82) and most given up on average (2.99), 4th worst in power play (15.7%) and 14th in penalty kill (80.8%).
Sabres Lose To Feisty Maple Leafs
The second outing of the current six-game homestand of the Buffalo Sabres (22-36-12) brought the second consecutive defeat (0-1-1) for the hosting team, which followed Saturday’s 2-1 shootout loss against the Vegas Golden Knights with a 5-2 fiasco at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs at KeyBank Center on Thursday. Despite being quite a nuisance for the visitors for the whole duration of the game, outshooting them 40-39, the Sabres, playing for the first time in five days, still failed to really threaten the Leafs, netting just twice with the man-advantage.
Sam Reinhart (18 goals, 39 points this year) cut Toronto’s initial 2-0 lead in half in the first period, while Jason Pominville (12 goals, 28 points) made it 4-2 at the end of the second frame. Goalie Robin Lehner stopped 34 shots, taking his current performance total to 14-25-9 for the year with a 2.93 GAA and a .911 save percentage. He is 0-2-1 against the Chicago Blackhawks historically with a 3.26 GAA and a .921 save percentage. The Sabres, meanwhile, are top of the league in least goals scored per game (2.37), 3rd in most goals allowed on average (3.24), 25th in power play (17.4%) and 21st in penalty kill (79.0%).
- Blackhawks are 1-10 in their last 11 road games.
- Blackhawks are 1-8 in their last 9 vs. a team with a losing record.
- Blackhawks are 2-7 in their last 9 Saturday games.
- Sabres are 5-0 in their last 5 games following a loss of 3 or more goals.
- Sabres are 5-0 in their last 5 after allowing 5 goals or more in their previous game.
- Sabres are 4-0 in their last 4 games following a home loss of 3 or more goals.
The Blackhawks have dominated this series heavily over the years, winning 12 straight overall meetings, with the last victory for the Sabres coming as far back as in December 2009. With Chicago now playing some of its worst hockey in ages, though, this is finally a good opportunity for Buffalo to get some revenge. The Sabres have done really well lately while bouncing back from heavy defeats, winning five straight games following a loss of three or more goals. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, have lost 10 of their past 11 travels and have posted just one victory in their last nine outings against teams with a losing record…