Patrick Kane leads Blackhawks to win in Buffalo homecoming

Patrick Kane leads Blackhawks to win in Buffalo homecoming

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Patrick Kane felt a little sheepish for being a little too emotional during a fist-pumping celebration after extending Chicago's lead to four goals in the third period.

It certainly wasn't a clutch goal or anything like that. The Blackhawks coasted to a 5-1 win over the Sabres on Sunday night.

Then again, Kane only gets to play in his Buffalo hometown once a year.

"I was a little jacked up for a 5-1 goal," Kane said. "I don't even know what I was thinking after that. It was kind of a blackout in that moment."

At least it had some historical significance.

It was Kane's 20th goal of the season, making the South Buffalo native the league's first American-born player to score that many in each of his first 10 seasons , according to Elias Sports. Kane also became the fifth Blackhawks player to reach the 20-goal plateau 10 times on a franchise career list led by Stan Mikita's 14.

"I think it's a pretty cool number," Kane said, before joking he's starting to feel old for 28.

"It's almost sad how fast it goes by," he added. "I feel maybe not as young as I used to be. ... Hopefully, a lot of great years left."

Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews broke it open with second-period goals for Chicago, which won for the sixth time in seven games. Ryan Hartman and Artem Anisimov also scored, helping the Blackhawks bounce back from a 3-1 loss to Edmonton on Saturday.

Scott Darling, subbing for starter Corey Crawford, made 25 saves in just his seventh appearance in two months.

Evander Kane scored and Robin Lehner stopped 32 shots for Buffalo in its final game before its five-day bye. The Sabres were trying for their first four-game win streak since December 2014.

Patrick Kane, however, was part of the draw given the large number of No. 88 Blackhawks jerseys that dominated several parts of the stands. And he gave them plenty to cheer about in the third period.

First, his one-timer from the high slot set up Anisimov's goal, making it 4-1 at the 3:29 mark.

Some three minutes later, Kane showed off some of his remarkable stick-handling skills. The NHL MVP was set up on the right of the Buffalo net, and was untouched for several seconds before easily depositing the puck inside the right post .

Kane celebrated by skating around the net, dropping down to one knee and pumping his arm, before flashing a big smile at a large number of Blackhawks fans in the stands.

Darling ate it up from the far end of the rink, knowing how special the moment was to Kane.

"It's an emotional game," Darling said. "I was super happy for him to have a highlight-reel goal like that."

Kane has scored in eight straight games against the Sabres. He upped his career total to eight goals and four assists in 13 meetings.

Chicago won its 11th consecutive game over Buffalo. The Blackhawks haven't lost to the Sabres since a 2-1 defeat at Buffalo on Dec. 11, 2009.

The Sabres were unable to match the Blackhawks' speed or depth after Evander Kane tied the game by converting Jack Eichel's centering pass with 6 seconds left in the first period.

Buffalo was outshot 20-14 over the final 40 minutes and 37-26 overall.

"We did too much sitting back, playing in our own zone," Eichel said. "We didn't play aggressive enough. We gave them too much room and the puck ended in our net."

Fatigue could have played a factor for the Sabres, who went 4-2 over a stretch of six games in nine days, including a 3-2 win over St. Louis on Saturday night.

"We can take some time here to rest a bit and try and let ourselves refocus for the last push of the season," Eichel said.

Blackhawks try to reverse trend vs. Wild

Blackhawks try to reverse trend vs. Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Wild have had the Blackhawks number the last season and a half. The Blackhawks will try to reverse that trend starting Wednesday night.

Since the beginning of 2015, the Blackhawks are 0-7-1 against the Wild. In those eight games the Wild have outscored the Blackhawks 28-12. There have been some frustrating games lately, including the Blackhawks’ 3-2 loss to Minnesota in January. Now trailing the Wild by six points in the Central Division, the Blackhawks are looking to close the gap.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“We’re looking at where we are in the standings, it’s a chance to get it closer,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “They have games in hand but that gap gets bigger and it’s like, ‘OK, we’d like to be the ones pushing them.’ So let’s try to control what we can control tonight and try to close [the gap].”

The Wild have lost just twice in their last 14 contests. Corey Crawford will start for the Blackhawks while Darcy Kuemper is expected to start for the Wild.

Broadcast information

Time: 7 p.m.

TV: NBCSN

Live stream: CSNChicago.com

Radio: WGN 720 AM

Blackhawks forward lines

Nick Schmaltz -Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik

Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane

Dennis Rasmussen-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa

Ryan Hartman-Tanner Kero-Vinnie Hinostroza

Defensive pairs

Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson

Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook

Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender

Corey Crawford

Injuries 

Michal Rozsival (lower body)

Wild forward lines

Zach Parise-Eric Staal-Alex Tuch

Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund

Nino Niederreiter-Charlie Coyle-Jason Pominville

Chris Stewart-Erik Haula-Tyler Graovac

Defensive pairs

Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella-Matthew Dumba

Gustav Olofsson-Christian Folin

Goaltender

Darcy Kuemper

Injuries 

Jonas Brodin (broken finger)

Joel Quenneville smart not to break up Blackhawks' second line

Joel Quenneville smart not to break up Blackhawks' second line

For a while, the second line of Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane was very quiet. Considering what that trio has done over the last year or so, it was surprising.

Maybe defenses were catching onto them. Maybe defenses were just zeroing in on them; with so much flux and inconsistency with the Blackhawks’ other lines, it was easy to see that happening. So entering the Blackhawks’ final two games of the Ice Show Trip the inevitable question arose: was it time to break up the second-line band?

“I still think there’s always something there,” Quenneville said at the time. “It’s a lot for the opponents to be concerned with to try and prevent. You get a little bit of a feel good whether they get one goal or a couple of scoring chances again and could be ignited quickly. For a year and change that line’s been the best in the game. We know it has a lot of capabilities.”

Lo and behold, the last two games that line has started generating points again, be it as a line or as part of the Blackhawks’ power play. Five points against the Arizona Coyotes. Five more points against the Dallas Stars. Kane has two goals and an assist in his last two games. Panarin broke his nine-game goal-less skid on Thursday and has three points in the last two contests. Same for Anisimov (three assists). Couple that with the scoring threats and you understand why Quenneville was hesitant to break them up.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

What’s the biggest complaint when the Blackhawks go through line changes? That they usually happen too often. Players don’t have a chance to develop any chemistry. Well, those three had plenty of chemistry from the first moment they were thrown together. That’s why even when things don’t go swimmingly, you give them some time to figure it out.

The Blackhawks have gone through a lot of changes over the past few seasons. Quenneville has done well in tinkering when necessary, and much of it has been necessary. So when you do get three that work well together you stick with it. The second line wasn’t broken. There was no reason to fix it.

BRIEFLY

• General manager Stan Bowman said last week that he wasn’t surprised that Ryan Hartman and Vinnie Hinostroza had adapted to the Blackhawks as well as they had. He cited the time the two spent in Rockford for their smoother transition to the Blackhawks. Still, Hartman’s goal total has been a pleasant surprise to Bowman. “Ryan’s production is a little ahead of schedule,” he said of Hartman, who now has 12 goals following the Blackhawks’ 5-3 victory over the Dallas Stars. “He’s on pace for almost 20 goals, and that’s a lot for a rookie. Hopefully he keeps that pace up.”

• Speaking of Hinostroza, expect him to be back in the lineup soon. Hinostroza was a healthy scratch in the last two games, as coach Quenneville was looking for more reliable defensive game. But Quenneville said there’s no plan for Hinostroza to head to Rockford. “We don’t expect him to be out too much longer here,” Quenneville said on Saturday afternoon.”