The Chicago Blackhawks were down by a goal with less than two minutes to go against the lowly Buffalo Sabres, but Jonathan Toews wouldn’t let his team lose as he scored twice to give them a 4-3 victory on Friday night.
Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp also picked up goals for the Blackhawks in the game, and Scott Darling made 35 saves in the victory. Marcus Foligno scored twice for the Sabres as their awful season continued.
The Blackhawks looked like they were going to run away and hide with the game in the early going, scoring in the first couple of minutes to take an early lead. With a great screen in front of the net provided by Bryan Bickell, Keith loaded up with a slapshot from the point and it beat Anders Lindback to put the Blackhawks up by a 1-0 margin.
The pressure continued for Chicago as the period wore on, with Brent Seabrook narrowly missing on a shot toward an empty cage, but Sharp made sure to get the job done and make it a two-goal game. The winger made a tremendous move to cut in past the Buffalo defense and into the slot, and Lindback couldn’t get back into position as Sharp scored to give Chicago a 2-0 advantage.
With about six and a half minutes remaining in the period, the Sabres had a chance to climb back into the game thanks to a power play, but they couldn’t get anything going. Brian Gionta had the lone quality chance of the sequence as he rifled in a shot from the point, but Darling made a nice save to keep his team ahead by two goals through the first period of play.
The Blackhawks got a power play of their own to start the second period, but after they were unable to score, it seemed like Buffalo began to put up more of an effort. Darling made a couple of nice saves in the opening minutes of the frame, but in spite of the Hawks getting another power play about seven minutes in, Chicago couldn’t seem to come up with an offensive effort to support their goaltender.
After a couple of good scoring chances by Cody Hodgson were turned aside, the Sabres finally were able to solve the Darling puzzle and got back to within a goal on the scoreboard. Getting inside position on Seabrook near the blue paint, Foligno picked up a rebound surrendered by Darling, and he flipped the puck past the Hawks’ goaltender to make it a 2-1 game with about seven minutes to go in the second period.
The Hawks were able to kill off an Andrew Shaw penalty shortly after that goal to stay in front, but once again on a late power play of their own they weren’t able to take advantage and extend their lead out through two periods of play.
In the first five minutes of the third period, the Sabres continued to push the issue on offense, and on a power play they were able to score and tie things up. Johan Larsson camped out in front of the Chicago net, and when Rasmus Ristolainen fired in a shot from the point, Larsson was able to fend off Seabrook and Andrew Desjardins to tip the puck past Darling and into the net to tie things up at 2-2.
The Blackhawks’ carelessness continued as the period wore on, and suddenly with less than eight minutes remaining in the game, the Sabres seized the lead. Gionta got things started as he casually skated through the neutral zone untested, and he slid a pass to Foligno. The Blackhawks scrambled to get back in on defense, but it was too late as Foligno pushed a shot past Darling to make it a 3-2 game.
Finally awake after the two goals, the Blackhawks’ offense came back to life with about two minutes remaining in regulation, and they were able to tie things up. Keith once again got things started by blasting in a shot toward Lindback, and when he wasn’t able to control the rebound, Toews scored to tie things up at 3-3.
Not content to let the game go to overtime, the Blackhawks scored again with less than a minute to go. This time it was Marian Hossa that made the play happen as he intercepted the pass at center ice, feeding it to Brandon Saad. The winger made a nice no-look pass to Toews as they broke into the zone on a 2-on-1 rush, and the captain ripped a wrist shot over Lindback’s glove to give his team a 4-3 victory in the game.
The Blackhawks will go for their fifth straight victory on Sunday night when they welcome the St. Louis Blues to the United Center in a game that will surely have huge implications for the Central Division race.