After the Sabres were completely flat against the Panthers at home yesterday, we probably should have expected a better effort from them. I wouldn’t characterize their game as “inspired” tonight, but they took advantage of a lot of terrible defensive coverage and an ugly turnover on the power play to get out to a two-goal lead in the second period.
The Blackhawks tried to battle back against Seattle on Saturday, but the five-goal deficit they were facing was too much; they out-scored the Kraken 4-2 in the final 40 minutes. Tonight, the Blackhawks erased a two-goal deficit in the third period and took the game to overtime. Seth Jones‘ game improved more as the game went on, and he picked up the game-tying goal with 55 seconds left on the clock.
Star 1: Philipp Kurashev
Kurashev was back on a line with Jonathan Toews and Taylor Raddysh tonight and that was, by far, the Blackhawks’ best line. In fact, for most of the game it was the only line that generated any offense whatsoever. Kurashev’s good vision set up Connor Murphy‘s goal in the first period, and he did a terrific job of redirecting a Seth Jones point shot into the net to cut the lead to 3-2 early in the third period. Late in the third, he was getting double-shifted and taking reps with Patrick Kane and Max Domi. Kurashev picked up a third point with the assist on Seth Jones’ game-tying goal in the final minute of regulation.
Star 2: Seth Jones
Seth scored the game-tying and game-winning goal in overtime.
Star 3: The Kids
No, I’m not referring to the young players on the Blackhawks’ roster. Or the young players representing Buffalo. There was a group of about a half dozen kids making noise and friends an hour before the puck dropped. They were getting high fives from every Blackhawks fan who passed, and booing anyone in the wrong colors as they tried to escape view. Shoutout, again, to the kids who were having a blast before the game.
- What are your thoughts on Buffalo’s road alternates? The white-on-white? From the 300 level the numbers popped but the rest of their bodies kinda disappeared. Not sure how I feel about them. I love the old school logo on the chest but I’m not sold on the top-to-bottom white look in the NHL.
- The Blackhawks’ first goal was another example of a defenseman activating and getting into open ice. There are times it feels the Hawks’ back end is hesitant or reluctant to jump into the play, but we’ve seen instances like this where it makes something good happen. The Blackhawks’ forwards aren’t going to beat a lot of teams by themselves, so having a fourth body jump into the attack can be a good thing times. Tonight, Murphy paid the bill.
- Seth Jones was minus-two in 5:46 in the first period, the least amount of ice time from the Blackhawks’ defensemen. Of course he watched Victor Olofsson score Buffalo’s first goal from a great angle (“defending” him) and then got back on the ice for Tage Thompson’s goal in the closing seconds of the period. But still, the ice time leader for the team getting that little ice time early is intriguing, especially when the period was pretty even.
- Seth’s ice time improved in the second period if you only look at the box score. When you look at him extending his own shifts with failed clear attempts and turnovers, it starts to make sense. His average shift was 38 seconds in length in the first period. His average shift in the second period? 65 seconds, thanks in large part to on 2:12 shift in the middle of the period. He was the only skater on the roster who was minus-three with the Sabres having three goals on the board.
- Seth appeared to get better in the third period, however. And with 55 seconds left in regulation and the Blackhawks’ net empty, his shot from the point beat Craig Anderson and the game was tied. He then got the game-winner in OT to cap a wild night.
- Rasmus Dahlin must have said one of the magical words. When Kurashev scored early in the third period, he went straight into the middle of the Blackhawks’ celebration and appeared to be ready to start the dance music. Whatever he said got him a 10-minute misconduct without a punch being thrown.