Last time Patrick Kane got to play in front of his hometown crowd, he was celebrating his first Stanley Cup championship. The Chicago Blackhawks last played in Buffalo in October of 2010. Thank God the NHL has finally wised up and did away with that stupid scheduling.
Now with the new scheduling Kane will get a chance to light the lamp in Buffalo every year. He scored a goal in his last visit home, just like he did in this visit.
Kane started off the scoring early, just 3;12 minutes into the game he scored to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead. As you will be able to see below it was a nice goal assisted by Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya. Unfortunately the Sabres scored a few minutes later on a sloppy goal to tie things up and that is how things stayed for a while.
The score remained tied for about the next 32 minutes till Jonathan Toews scored his 25th of the season. It is Toews' sixth goal in the last four games and puts him ahead of Marian Hossa for third on the team in goals behind Kane and Sharp. If he keeps this up it might not be long till he catches and passes them both.
Corey Crawford had another solid game, stopping 20 of 21 shots. You may have noticed that Crawford was back in his normal white pads and gloves, these were brand new pads and not the pads that have gone missing.
The penalty kill also kept up their solid play, killing off all five power play chances of the Sabres. The penalty kill has now killed 53 of the last 58 penalties. Sadly for them while the penalty kill has seemingly been fixed the power play has not been as good as their rankings show.
The power play has converted on only two of their 19 chances since returning from the Olympics. The is a rate of 10.5% while on the season they have been converting at a rate of 21.6%. Ben Smith actually saw time on the struggling power play Sunday night. Maybe coach Joel Quenneville will give Bryan Bickell a chance again.
Actually I wouldn't count on that.
The recently required David Rundbald made his Hawks debut in this game. He had 7:38 minutes of ice time and mostly went by unnoticed. He registered a missed shot and that was it. While it is good we didn't notice him, because it means he didn't screw up, it won't help him earn any more playing time if he doesn't show the coaches he deserves it. With 17 games left he might not have many more chances.
The Hawks will next travel to Colorado to play Wednesday against the Avs who won in Chicago last week. The Avs currently trail the Hawks by 3 points but have a game in hand on the Hawks. Colorado hosts Winnipeg on Monday and will either remain 3 points back or have a chance to pass the Hawks on Wednesday, depending on the outcome of Monday's game.
Scoreboard Watch: Colorado lost to St. Louis on Saturday and did not play Sunday and I covered where they currently stand. St. Louis not only beat Colorado on Saturday but they beat the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. They have now won five straight games and have over taken the Ducks for most points in the league. The Blues still have a game in hand over the Hawks but play Dallas on Tuesday.
What all this means is that when we go to bed Tuesday night, all three teams will all have 65 games played and be on equal footing. The Ducks will play their 65th game on Monday so all for of the teams chasing for the top seed will be on equal footing.
With the new divisional playoff system it will be very important to win the division in order to play a wild card team, rather than a possible strong division rival. Just about one month till playoff time, it should be a fun ride down the stretch.