It was a collapse of epic proportions on Friday night at the First Niagara Center.
After falling behind the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 in the first period, the Buffalo Sabres stormed back to take a 3-2 lead with 7:18 left in the third period. The Sabres were well on its way to its first victory against Chicago since December 11, 2009 until Jonathan Toews scored two quick goals just 47-seconds apart at the 18:17 mark and the 19:04 mark to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 win over the last place Sabres.
“We played a great 58-minutes against one of the best teams in the league,” Sabres forward Tyler Ennis said following the loss. “They showed what they could do when their backs are against the wall. We have to take what we did well tonight and take it to the Island.”
“We battled back against one of the best teams in the league,” Sabres head coach Ted Nolan said. “Being down 2-0, then to take a 3-2 lead was good. When you look back when we first played them at the beginning of the year, they just walked over us as if we weren’t even there. It was a big improvement from that game to this game.”
Duncan Keith and Brandon Saad scored the first two goals of the game for the Blackhawks early in the first period.
In the second, Marcus Foligno scored at the 13:10 mark of the second to cut the deficit to just one.
In the third period, Johan Larsson tipped a shot from Rasmus Ristolainen to tie the game at two. Later, Foligno scored again to give the Sabres a 3-2 lead. With less than two minutes left in the game, “Captain Clutch” Toews nets two for the Blackhawks to walk out of Buffalo with the team’s fourth consecutive victory.
Foligno may have led the team in goals with two, but Rasmus Ristolainen tied a career high in assists on Friday get one on all three Sabres goals. Ristolainen also had one shot and three blocked shots in 21:23 of total ice-time.
The line of Foligno, Mikhail Grigorenko, and Nick Deslauriers was possibly Buffalo’s best line on Friday. Grigorenko was a plus-1, had two shots and was 58-percent on his face-offs in 13:56 of total ice-time. For Deslauriers, he was tied for the team lead shots with five along with Foligno. Deslauriers also had four hits and was a plus-1 in 13:46 of ice-time.
Anders Lindback was strong in nets for the Sabres stopping 32 shots on 36 attempts towards the net, but it was just not enough to help Buffalo get the win.
The Sabres loss has dropped the team to 22-48-8 with four games left on the season. The Sabres still remain two points ahead of the Arizona Coyotes in the race for 30th, with the Coyotes in San Jose to play the Sharks both Friday night and Saturday night.
Buffalo will now travel overnight to Long Island to play the New York Islanders on Saturday night. Opening face-off is scheduled for 7pm, and the game can be seen on MSG Network.