The addition of Marian Hossa has helped the Chicago Blackhawks
continue their strong play, but they’ve had some difficulty finding
the back of the net recently.
Chicago could catch a break Friday night when it travels to face
the Buffalo Sabres, potentially facing former teammate Patrick
Lalime instead of one of the league’s top goaltenders, Ryan
After rehabbing for nearly two months from offseason shoulder
surgery, Hossa – signed by the Blackhawks for $62.8 million over 12
years – made a splash with two goals in his debut with the team, a
7-2 victory at San Jose on Nov. 25.
Chicago (19-7-3) has tallied nine total goals – four by Jonathan
Toews – in six games since then, but the Central Division leaders
are 3-2-1 in that span, including consecutive 2-1 overtime
victories over Pittsburgh last Saturday and the New York Rangers on
“We’ll take the wins and worry about how we win later,” coach
Joel Quenneville said.
Despite a 41-18 advantage in shots on goal, the Blackhawks were
held scoreless by the visiting Rangers until Toews scored the tying
goal with 5:55 remaining in regulation.
In overtime, 6-foot-4, 257-pound Dustin Byfuglien swept around
the New York defense for the winning score.
“It was the highlight of the year,” Quenneville said. “Great
speed, great presence of mind. He cut in. Nice finish as well.”
Toews had a goal and an assist in last season’s 4-1 home victory
over the Sabres. Lalime, who played two seasons in Chicago before
signing with Buffalo for 2008-09, took the loss in that matchup.
Current Blackhawks starter Cristobal Huet stopped 22 shots to beat
Published reports in Buffalo indicate Lalime could get another
start against his former team Friday. Buffalo (17-9-2) might opt to
rest Miller – among the league leaders with a 1.82 goals-against
average – for a more important Eastern Conference matchup Saturday
night, against the Rangers in the opener of a three-game road
Miller helped the Sabres avoid a three-game slide Wednesday
night with a 35-save effort and his fourth shutout of the season,
3-0 over visiting Washington, the league’s highest-scoring
“We all knew what was at stake,” Miller said after his eighth
straight start. “You can’t lose three in a row and call yourself a
top team. You have to keep pace with the big teams, and we got back
on our feet.”
Lalime, meanwhile, has a 4.55 GAA in three appearances this
season and hasn’t played since giving up five goals at Ottawa on
Nov. 21. He’s also endured hip and groin injuries over the past two
Lalime is 2-5-2 with a 3.17 GAA against the Blackhawks.
Huet, who used to play for the Sabres’ Northeast Division rival
Montreal, is 6-2-1 with a 1.86 GAA in his last nine games against
Buffalo. Backup Antti Niemi has never faced the Sabres.
This is the first visit to Buffalo for the Blackhawks since a
3-1 loss Dec. 15, 2007. They haven’t won there since a 6-5 victory
Dec. 19, 2001.