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Sharpen Up: February 19, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak / Sabres.com

Coming off a big win yesterday, the Buffalo Sabres are going at it again tonight with the Chicago Blackhawks in town. It's a 6 p.m. faceoff on NBCSN. Dan and Rayzor have the call on WGR 550. 

The Sabres downed the Blues 3-2 in the Saturday afternoon affair with Evander Kane and Nicholas Baptiste both picking up a goal and an assist. Ryan O'Reilly scored what turned out to be the winner with 32 seconds left in the second period on the power play. 

It snapped St. Louis' six-game winning streak and Buffalo is now looking for its first four-game winning streak since Dec. 9 to 15, 2014.

Here's what you need to know.

Video: Lehner's 37-save performance leads Sabres past Blues

We're not going to explicitly talk about the standings here, but you can click this link and hold on to your butts because the Sabres are right in the thick of the playoff chase.  

Video: BYLSMA: Postgame Interview

Baptiste was officially recalled just before warmups, but he found out he might play only hours before faceoff.

Sam Reinhart missed the game due to illness so Baptiste was thrust into the lineup. He scored 9:34 into the contest to tie the game after a slow start for the team. He added his first career assist midway through the second period on Kane's 20th goal of the season.

Baptiste seemed to fit right in on a line with Kane and center Jack Eichel.

Video: BAPTISTE: Postgame Interview

"I think we had a lot of speed on our line," Baptiste said. "Jack's so good with the puck, you've got to get open for him. On that play when we scored, he cut to the middle and I was able to find a hole. He put the puck on my tape and it was just a great play."

Video: KANE: Postgame Interview

Kane's been on a tear since Dec. 1, when he made his return to the lineup from cracked ribs sustained on opening night. Over that time, he is ranked second among all NHL skaters in goals (20), leads the league in even-strength goals (19) and ranks second in shots on goal (135).

He's scored each of his 20 goals this season in his last 35 games, including a team-high 19 even-strength goals. He also has 14 points (8+6) in his last 13 games.

Video: LEHNER: Postgame Interview

Robin Lehner, meanwhile, made 37 saves and his .926 save percentage ranks fourth in the NHL. 

"I don't look at my numbers. I try not to focus on that too much," Lehner said, mentioning that he's liked his game all year. 

All right then. He could very well be back in net today. He stopped 37 of 39 shots (.949) in his only career start against Chicago back on March 2, 2012.

Video: Ryan O'Reilly on the postgame show

 

Tonight's matchup

It's the second and final matchup of the season between Buffalo and Chicago. The last time these two teams met, it was back on Jan. 5 when the Blackhawks tied the game with 2:04 remaining to send the game into overtime and then, 56 seconds into the extra period, Patrick Kane scored to give Chicago a 4-3 victory. 

At that point, it was one of the toughest losses of the year and just another chapter in the recent history of dramatic Blackhawks wins over the Sabres.

The Sabres are looking to snap a 10-game winless streak (0-8-2) against the Blackhawks that includes a four-game losing streak at home. Their last win against the Blackhawks was a 2-1 victory in Buffalo on Dec. 11, 2009. With at least a point tonight, Buffalo would have points in consecutive games against Chicago for the first time since the team went unbeaten in four straight from Dec. 13, 2002 to Dec. 15, 2007 (3-0-1).

Chicago hosted Edmonton last night, losing 3-1 to the Oilers. The defeat snapped the Blackhawks' five-game winning streak. 


On tap today

Brian Duff will have a game preview for you later today. There's no morning skate for Buffalo so we'll have Dan Bylsma's full pregame comments later this afternoon. We'll find out if Reinhart is ready for action and if any other lineup changes are in order. 

Then stick with us for full postgame coverage. Jourdon LaBarber will have your written recap, Duffer will have your video recap, and we'll have highlights and full reaction from the locker room.

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