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Hawks take another crack at first win vs. Sabres

by Brian Hunter
BLACKHAWKS (0-1-1) at SABRES (1-1-0)

Season series:
These teams will meet twice in the span of six days, with Buffalo paying a visit to Chicago on Oct. 16. Backup goalie Patrick Lalime turned in a 39-save performance to lead the Sabres to a 2-1 win on Dec. 11, 2009, their only meeting with the Blackhawks last season.

Big story: It's too soon to start seriously talking about a Stanley Cup hangover, but Chicago enters its third game of the season still looking for its first victory. Actually, the Blackhawks could have won against either the Avalanche or the Red Wings, but dropped a pair of one-goal decisions. On the other side, Buffalo followed up a promising win in Ottawa by getting throttled at home by the New York Rangers.
Team Scope:
Blackhawks: The stage was perfectly set on Saturday night, as Chicago raised its Stanley Cup banner to the rafters at a raucous United Center and then faced off against arch-rival Detroit. But Valtteri Filppula crashed the party with a pair of goals, including a power-play strike 6:01 into the third period, as the Red Wings handed the Blackhawks a 3-2 defeat.

"They are always a competitor and are always going to be there," captain Jonathan Toews said. "They have been for years, and looking at their roster and the way they played tonight, we are going to have some great battles throughout the regular season. There is no hiding from teams like that, and we want to take them on head-on and prove ourselves against them."

Just like its opponent Monday, the home opener didn't go quite the way Buffalo would have liked, either. Ryan Miller yielded five goals on 27 shots -- including three to Derek Stepan in his NHL debut -- and the Sabres wasted a pair of goals from defenseman Jordan Leopold in a 6-3 loss to the Rangers.

"We weren't good," coach Lindy Ruff said. "We had a period of maybe 10 minutes in the second period where we put the work boots on. I'm pretty disappointed with our work ethic. We had pucks we didn't want to go get. We had some retrievals where we had lack of communication. We had some changes where our defense had no support. There was a lot of bad stuff from that game."

Who's hot:
Bryan Bickell is making his bid to be one of the Chicago players who steps into a bigger role after the offseason mass exodus, with goals in each of the first two games. … Derek Roy also scored for Buffalo on Saturday and has three goals in the first two games.

Injury report:
Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp didn't play against the Red Wings due to an upper-body injury, while defenseman Brian Campbell remains out with a sprained knee. … Lalime has been dealing with a groin issue but is expected to be available for the Sabres.

Stat pack:
Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith, the reigning Norris Trophy winner, is already logging major minutes, playing a game-high 30:01 against Detroit. … Buffalo defenseman Tyler Myers, the reigning Calder Trophy winner, has an assist and a minus-3 rating in the first two games.

Puck drop: One area of Saturday night's game where Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville came away displeased was the power play. Chicago converted Detroit's initial penalty into a Brent Seabrook power-play goal to tie the score prior to the first intermission, but let several other chances slip away in the third period.

"We had three power plays after (Filppula's second goal) to get the equalizer and didn't generate enough," Quenneville said. "They killed penalties well. Our entry tonight was giving us problems. We didn't sustain enough pucks to get some offensive zone time. I thought (the power play) was good in Colorado. Tonight I can't say that."

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