Crawford helps Chicago Blackhawks edge Sabres 2-1 - KMSP-TV

Crawford helps Blackhawks edge Sabres 2-1

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

On Saturday night, as has been the case this season the Blackhawks started out with a top effort but had trouble finishing strongly. Paced by an excellent performance by Corey Crawford the Hawks held off the Buffalo Sabres and picked up a 2-1 win.

Chicago's attack was in high gear in the opening frame peppering Ryan Miller with 20 shots on goal. The Sabres were seeking their first win of the season and Miller did his part as he kept his team's chances alive with many quality saves. The Hawks were only able to get one past Miller in the first period as Ben Smith skillfully redirected a Duncan Keith shot.

Buffalo woke up about midway through the second period and then it was Crawford's turn to shine. The Hawks netminder hasn't played poorly this season but versus the Sabres his performance was the difference. Crawford's play stood out as he appeared to be back to last season's form for the first time.

Miller had another fine game and besides Crawford was the best player on the ice. Although he has yet to post a victory in four starts, Miller has an outstanding .941 save percentage this season. Miller is in the last year of a hefty contract and my money is on him getting moved at the trade deadline. The Sabres are in an all out rebuilding mode and Miller may relish an address change later in the season.

Patrick Kane notched the game winner on the power play at 19:35 of the middle period. That goal came at a fortunate time as the desperate Sabres came out in the third period ready to win their first game of the season and notched their only goal at 11:49. If not for Crawford they would have been successful as the Hawks stopped skating in the later stages of the period. Maybe some fatigue set in as now the club can rest for a couple of days before facing Carolina on Tuesday night.

Once again Joel Quenneville was changing line combinations. He must realize the schedule will become more difficult in the upcoming week and that his team needs more consistent efforts. Although the Hawks bench boss can't be too upset as his club did pick up all four points this weekend.

The Blackhawks will play three games in five nights beginning with a road contest against the Hurricanes. They will return home Thursday looking for revenge versus St. Louis and then conclude the week by playing Toronto on Saturday at the United Center.

Al's Shots

Smith is a hard worker who had a nice game and was rewarded with a goal. He played a total of 10:53 and saw 43-seconds of time on the penalty kill.

Brandon Pirri made his season debut and skated on the fourth line. Pirri had one shot on goal and finished a +1 on the night. Pirri also won six out of ten faceoffs.

Rookie Joakim Nordstrom had another good outing as he was teamed with Marcus Kruger on the penalty kill unit.

Brandon Saad continues to be noticeable and logged 17:03 of playing time.

Playing in back-to-back games, Marian Hossa appeared to be in good form. Hossa had four shots and six takeaways.

Patrick Sharp appears a bit frustrated as he is still looking for his first goal of the season. Sharp had some nice scoring chances but was either stopped or missed the net. On the night, Sharp had five shots on goal and also missed the net four times. Sharp was a winner of four of five faceoffs.

Led by Jonathan Toews 62%, the Hawks won 58% of all faceoffs.

Bryan Bickell hasn't hit his best stride but recorded four hits versus Buffalo.

The Hawks were credited with 40 shots on goal and also missed the net on 15 attempts.

Keith has started to shoot on target as he recorded four shots on goal. He led all Blackhawks with 23:25 of ice time.

I will be back on Wednesday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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