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Sabres at Blackhawks preview

Crawford to start for Blackhawks, who've lost five straight games; Buffalo goes for back-to-back wins

by Charlie Roumeliotis / Correspondent

SABRES (7-14-4) at BLACKHAWKS (12-11-5)

8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSCH, MSG-B, NHL.TV


The Game

Goaltender Corey Crawford will return after missing three games with a lower-body injury and the Chicago Blackhawks will try to avoid losing their sixth straight game when they host the Buffalo Sabres at United Center on Friday.

The Blackhawks are coming off a 6-2 loss at the Washington Capitals on Wednesday. They have averaged two goals per game during the losing streak.

Crawford is 8-0-0 with a 1.86 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in eight starts against Buffalo.

The Sabres will try to win back-to-back games for the second time this season, and first since Oct. 21 and 24.


Players to watch

Sabres forward Jack Eichel has three points (one goal, two assists) in his past two games after having three points (two goals, one assist) in his previous eight.

Forward Vinnie Hinostroza will make his season debut for the Blackhawks after being recalled from Rockford of the American Hockey League. He had 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 49 games for Chicago last season.


They said it

"We have to be ready to play tonight when the puck drops because they're going to try to feed off the energy of their crowd and if we can take that out of them, have the start we did against Colorado I think it's going to pay dividends." -- Sabres coach Phil Housley

"Anybody can win on any given night. Buffalo's coming off an emotional win. ... We have to take advantage of home ice. Let's take some pride in being at home and playing well and take advantage of the building and the crowd." -- Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville


Sabres projected lineup

Evander Kane -- Jack Eichel -- Jason Pominville

Benoit Pouliot -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Hudson Fasching

Scott Wilson -- Evan Rodrigues -- Kyle Okposo

Jordan Nolan -- Johan Larsson -- Sam Reinhart

Marco Scandella -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe -- Zach Bogosian

Justin Falk -- Victor Antipin

Robin Lehner

Chad Johnson

Scratched: Zemgus Girgensons, Josh Gorges

Injured: Nathan Beaulieu (illness), Taylor Fedun (lower body), Jacob Josefson (ankle)


Blackhawks projected lineup

Brandon Saad -- Jonathan Toews -- Alex DeBrincat

Nick Schmaltz -- Artem Anisimov -- Patrick Kane

Patrick Sharp -- Vinnie Hinostroza -- Richard Panik

Lance Bouma -- Tommy Wingels -- John Hayden

Duncan Keith -- Cody Franson

Connor Murphy -- Brent Seabrook

Gustav Forsling -- Jan Rutta

Corey Crawford

Anton Forsberg

Scratched: Ryan Hartman, Michal Kempny, Jordan Oesterle

Injured: Michal Rozsival (concussion)


Status report

Housley said Okposo will play despite not taking part in the morning skate. … Quenneville did not reveal who Hinostroza would replace in the lineup.


Stat pack

Evander Kane has two points (one goal, one assist) in his past five games after having 10 points (five goals, five assists) in his previous nine. … Patrick Kane, a Buffalo native, hasn't had a point in three games, his longest drought of the season. He has 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in 13 games against the Sabres since entering the NHL in 2007.

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