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Strong third period helps Blackhawks get past Sabres

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane did what he usually does against his childhood favorite team and the Chicago Blackhawks did what they usually do against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday at United Center.

Kane scored the game-deciding goal early in the third period and assisted on another in the Blackhawks' 6-2 win in their first home game of the season.

Kane has five goals and four assists in nine games against his hometown Sabres (0-2-0), who've dropped six straight games against the Blackhawks dating back to the 2009-10 season.

Kane's linemates, center Andrew Shaw (goal and assist) and left wing Brandon Saad (three assists), had big games in the continuation of a line combination that's paid dividends stretching back to the Western Conference Final against the Los Angeles Kings last spring.

"Playing with those two guys, you know they're going to make plays," said Shaw, who scored the game's first goal 59 seconds into the opening period and set up Kane's goal. "I try to go to the dirty areas and get them the puck and go to the net. They seem to make a lot of things happen."

The Blackhawks (2-0-0) made a lot happen in the first 10 minutes of the game and the final 20, when they scored four times on 19 shots and only let goalie Corey Crawford (21 saves) see four shots.

There was a little letdown in the latter half of the first, when the Sabres tied it 2-2 on goals by Zemgus Girgensons and Tyler Ennis, but overall the Blackhawks' effort wasn't anything like their lackluster first two periods in a shootout win Thursday at the Dallas Stars.

It wasn't perfect, but there was a lot more to be happy about this time, including a 47-23 shot differential in their favor.

"Our [first 40 minutes] tonight wasn't bad," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Just because it was 2-2, doesn't mean that it wasn't as complete as we'd like. I think across the board we were 100 percent better than we were the other day. [This] put us back on the right track."

In the third, Chicago got goals from Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Daniel Carcillo to break the 2-2 tie and earn their second straight win. Shaw and defenseman Duncan Keith scored in the first, forging a 2-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.

Crawford, who wasn't nearly as busy as he was in Dallas, made 21 saves for his second straight win.

"I think we were able to wear them down in their zone," Crawford said. "We had some great shifts there in the third period, where I think they just kind of sat back and we were cycling. All five guys in the zone were moving it around and making it difficult on them with our speed and skill. It was nice to see."

Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth made 41 saves but dropped to 0-2-0.

"In the third period, their star players turned it up a notch and we didn’t," Buffalo coach Ted Nolan said. "The reason we came back was Girgensons. The one thing that a lot of people can take from him is his effort. He just works. If we get everybody to do that, we’ll be OK. But for whatever reason, we had too many passengers tonight."

Chicago got things going quickly after the opening puck drop.

Shaw made it 1-0 by tipping a point shot from Niklas Hjalmarsson past Enroth, and Keith made it 2-0 at 2:52 with his second goal in as many games.

It appeared to be a rout in the making, but Girgensons stemmed the tide with his second goal in as many games, making it 2-1 at 7:17 of the first by flipping a shot past Crawford off a rebound of a long wrist shot by defenseman Andrej Meszaros

Ennis tied it 2-2 with 1:20 left in the first on a pretty shorthanded goal.

After Ennis deflected a pass by Brad Richards to cause a turnover, forward Drew Stafford collected it and earned his second assist of the game by sending a quick pass to Ennis for a breakaway. His wrist beat Crawford to the stick side after a quick backhand-forehand deke.

In the second, Hossa nearly put the Blackhawks back in front during a goal-mouth scramble. Instead, a video review upheld the initial ruling of no goal by showing he used a kicking motion to send the puck over the goal line.

Buffalo had a great scoring chance thwarted at 15:13 of the second, when forward Nicholas Deslauriers scooped a puck that hopped over the stick of defenseman David Rundblad at the Sabres blue line and turned it into a breakaway.

This time, Crawford made a pad save to keep the game tied.

It was all Blackhawks from there. Kane's goal at 5:58 of the third started a landslide that included Hossa's 30th career shorthanded goal, a category he leads among active players. Sharp then added his second power-play goal in as many games and Carcillo scored his first goal of the season to cap the scoring.

"We just said between periods to try and shut [their transition game] down and not give them anything on the rush, eliminate that from their game," Crawford said. "We turned pucks over at our blue line against them and [went] back quick the other way, and it almost turned out like that the whole third period, a lot of zone time for us."

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