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Chicago Blackhawks upend Patrick Lalime and the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 @NHLdotcom

CHICAGO - Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, Martin Havlat and James Wisniewski scored goals as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 on Wednesday night.

Chicago's Cristobal Huet stopped 22 shots as the Blackhawks won their second straight. Chicago's Kris Versteeg, the NHL's rookie scoring leader, added two assists.

Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith left the game with an undisclosed injury after taking a hard, open-ice hit from Buffalo's Drew Stafford midway through the second period. Keith, who was slammed just after releasing a shot, entered the game averaging nearly 26 minutes of ice time.

Ales Kotalik scored for Buffalo, which dropped its second straight.

Buffalo's Patrick Lalime, the backup to Ryan Miller, made 21 saves in his first start since Dec. 26.

Lalime, who played the past two seasons with the Blackhawks, was shaky as he faced his former teammates for the first time since signing with the Sabres as a free agent in July.

While holding a 3-1 lead late in the second period, the Blackhawks killed eight straight minutes of Buffalo power play and allowed one shot during the span.

Chicago killed all seven Buffalo power plays.

Kotalik opened the scoring midway through the first period following a failed Chicago clearing attempt. He ripped in a shot from the slot after being set up by Adam Mair.

Sharp tied it at 1 with 4:24 left in the first. Lalime stopped Ben Eager's shot from the slot, but Sharp's rebound attempt trickled in under Lalime's arm as he was sprawled on the ice.

Toews scored 2:29 later - also on a shot Lalime misplayed - to put Chicago ahead 2-1. Lalime appeared to have stopped Toews' shot from the left circle, but the puck rolled between his right arm and body, and landed in the net.

Havlat made it 3-1 at 5:53 of the second to complete a three-on-one break. Havlat carried the puck down the left wing, then beat Lalime with a shot high on the stick side.

The Blackhawks then killed eight straight minutes of Buffalo power plays.

The first two minutes were set up by a penalty for too many men on the ice. The final six were levied against Eager - a minor for cross-checking and a double-minor for roughing - after he retaliated against Stafford for the hit on Keith.

Chicago allowed one shot on goal, to Tim Connolly, during the Buffalo advantage. The Blackhawks nearly scored after Adam Burish knocked the puck away from Lalime, who had wandered out to play it.

Wisniewski made it 4-1 only 17 seconds into the third with his first goal of the season. He beat Lalime with a low shot from the blue line.

Notes: While with the Blackhawks the past two seasons, Lalime was 20-18-3 with a 2.88 goals-against average in 44 games. ... Buffalo RW Maxim Afinogenov missed his fourth game with a groin injury and RW Patrick Kaleta missed his 11th with a head/neck injury. Both are on injured reserve. ... The crowd of 21,684 was Chicago's 20th sellout in 20 home games this season.

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