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Offensive chances come up short in loss to Blackhawks

Eichel scores lone goal in 4-1 defeat

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

CHICAGO - Coming off a victory at home over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, the Sabres came to United Center on Sunday looking to carry the habits that made them successful into their meeting with the Chicago Blackhawks. 

They did through the first period and a half, but penalties and a two-goal deficit swung momentum away from them in what ended as a 4-1 loss. 

"I thought there was a half, the first half, where we actually were playing the game we wanted to play," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. 

"I thought the second goal really took the wind out of our sails. On a back-to-back, I think you really have to make sure you keep the momentum and the energy going in a good way … they jumped on that opportunity and we seemed to break down with too many penalties and lost control of the game."

Video: Condensed Game: Sabres @ Blackhawks

Rookie forward Kirby Dach scored the Blackhawks' first two goals. The first came with 4:17 remaining in the opening period on a shot that deflected off the outstretched stick of Jack Eichel and flipped high over the shoulder of goaltender Carter Hutton.

Dach made it 2-0 with 7:28 in the second period, this time cutting in behind Eichel and burying a backhand shot as he crossed the net.

"It's my guy on that second goal that he scores," Eichel said. "Obviously, that's really frustrating for me. I've got to have him there. There's no other way to say it. That's my guy, he goes right by me. Obviously, I would really love to have that play back. It can't happen." 

Despite the deficit, the Sabres went into the second intermission holding a 17-15 advantage in even-strength scoring chances, according to They opened the third period with a full power play, their fourth of the night. 

The Sabres went 0-for-4 on those power plays, tallying seven shots on goalie Corey Crawford. They are 0-for-18 with the extra man over their last seven games.

"It's been struggling," Eichel said. "It seems like we're one and done. We're not getting puck retrievals, not making plays, and obviously it's been failing us."

Less than two minutes after that final power play expired, Patrick Kane scored off the opening draw of Chicago's fifth man advantage to make it 3-0. Brandon Saad buried a Jonathan Toews feed to make it 4-0 just over five minutes later. 

Eichel - coming off the first four-goal performance of his career on Saturday - forced a turnover and finally put the Sabres on the board with 10:21 remaining, but it was the only offense the Sabres would generate during a 34-shot outing. 

"They just had grade-As, we didn't," Eichel said. "Their chances were probably better than ours and we just didn't play a good game."

Video: BUF@CHI: Eichel steals puck, finishes great move

Jimmy Vesey had two of the team's best chances of the night, including a shorthanded opportunity that hit the post in the second period. Vesey stressed the need for balanced scoring from throughout the lineup, which was a major component to the team's October success.

"I thought there was a lot to like in the first period, but as the game when on I thought they made the most of their chances and we've got to do a better job of capitalizing on ours," he said. "To be honest, it can't be the same guys every night. I think we need contributions from up and down our lineup."


Thompson exits early in season debut

Forward Tage Thompson, making his season debut in place of an injured Kyle Okposo, left for the dressing room with an apparent injury after completing his last shift with 2:20 remaining. He tallied two shot attempts in 6:59. 

In addition to Okposo, who is day-to-day, recent injuries to the Sabres' forward group include Vladimir Sobotka (out four to six weeks), Marcus Johansson (day-to-day), and Johan Larsson (day-to-day). Thompson was the third recall in the past week, following Curtis Lazar and Rasmus Asplund. 

"It's good for us to see what our depth is like," Krueger said. "Those are four of our veteran players out of the lineup. I thought we came in and put up a pretty good fight here early on. Again, very disappointed with the end storyline, but managing injuries is part of what we need to do in the NHL and it's also an opportunity to get to know players from Rochester and to see where our depth is at."


Dahlin rebounds

After sitting out the third period on Saturday, Dahlin's response in Chicago was a silver lining in the eyes of his coach. He tallied six shot attempts in 19:55 and the Sabres held a 56.52 percent shot share when he was on the ice at 5-on-5. 

"He came back strong today, which we liked," Krueger said. "He was really positive after the game yesterday and we were working with him on solutions and what he can learn from that game. We thought he played solid. 

"That was a real positive thing about the game today, was the reaction of a young kid like that who gets left out for 20 minutes and comes out fighting and working on improving his game, which he did. So, were pleased with that."


Up next

The Sabres return home to host the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. Coverage on MSG begins at 6:30 p.m., or you can listen live on WGR 550. The puck drops at 7. 

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