Game Recap

Blackhawks 4, Sabres 3

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 3:48 AM

Associated Press

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Blackhawks 4, Sabres 3
Chicago Blackhawks 4, Buffalo Sabres 3

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Corey Crawford's nerves helped the defending Stanley Cup champions get their first win of the season.

Crawford shrugged off a shaky start to win his second NHL game in goal, Marian Hossa scored twice, and Nick Leddy got his first career NHL goal in Chicago's 4-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night.

The game was marred by a scary moment in the first period when Sabres right wing Jason Pominville was carted off on a stretcher after being hit into the boards from behind by Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson with 5:42 to go.

Pominville was skating toward the puck near the right boards in the Buffalo zone 20 feet inside the blue line when Hjalmarsson sent him flying into the boards, causing his head to hit the glass violently.

Pominville sustained a concussion and a gash above his eye that required 7-8 stitches on the play, while Hjalmarsson was given a 5-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct. The Sabres were unable to capitalize on the man advantage.

Hjalmarsson could face a suspension after the league reviews the controversial hit.

"You never want to see someone laying on the ice like that," Hjalmarsson said. "I thought it was a shoulder-to-shoulder hit. It's good to know that he's up and walking, and hopefully he'll get back as soon as possible."

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff didn't speculate whether or not he thinks Hjalmarsson will be suspended.

"It'll be interesting," he said. "(Hjalmarsson) made a big mistake. He caught a player in a tough spot."

Crawford, meanwhile, admitted that he was plenty nervous at the beginning of his first start of the season, and ninth NHL game. Allowing a pair of goals in the game's first 2:43 didn't help much, but the rookie settled down to finish with 32 saves.

"A little panic sets into your head, but you have to try and brush that away," Crawford said. "I just kept battling and stuck with it."

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said he was thinking about pulling Crawford in favor of veteran Marty Turco, but was happy he stuck with the 25-year-old.

"All those options go through your mind," Quenneville said. "It was a tough start, but we persevered."

Crawford helped preserve the win with a sparkling left pad save on Buffalo forward Mike Grier's attempt from the slot with just over 3 minutes to go, and the Blackhawks allowed just one shot during a Sabres power play that began with 2:28 to go and with Miller off for an extra attacker for the majority of the advantage.

"What a save he made there," Quenneville said about the Grier stop. "It was out of nowhere."

Patrick Kane also scored for the Blackhawks, who had lost their first two games of the season.

"We really needed this win," Hossa said. "The 5-minute kill helped us, and we tightened up defensively."

Drew Stafford and Derek Roy each had a goal and assist, and Tim Connolly also scored for the Sabres, who've lost two straight after a season-opening win at Ottawa.

Ryan Miller finished with 26 saves.

With Chicago up 3-2 after two periods, Hossa notched his second of the game, and third of the season, 3:36 into the third with a wrist shot from the lower left circle that went under Miller's glove.

Connolly made it 4-3 less than 2 minutes later when he whipped a shot in from in tight.

Stafford opened the scoring just 14 seconds in when his wrist shot from the inner edge of the left circle eluded Crawford.

Roy made it 2-0 for Buffalo with his fourth of the season 2:29 later.

The Blackhawks responded with four straight goals, starting with Kane cutting the deficit in half with a power-play goal at 7:44 of the first.

Leddy tied it after his slap shot went off Buffalo defenseman Shaone Morrisonn's skate near the crease 4 minutes into the second.

Hossa gave Chicago its first lead with 1:13 remaining in the middle frame when he went in alone from the blue line and slipped a shot from the slot past Miller.

"They wound up getting one off their skate, but that's what happens when you get pucks on the net," Sabres captain Craig Rivet said. "We would like to take a few of those situations back."

NOTES: These two teams will play again on Saturday in Chicago. It's the first time since 2002-03 they've met twice in one season. ... Sabres C Jochen Hecht played in his 700th career NHL game. ... Pominville entered the game as Buffalo's active leader in consecutive games played with 335. ... The Blackhawks won for just the second time in the past six meetings with the Sabres.

scoring summary
1st Period
Drew Stafford (1) ASST: Derek Roy (1), Jordan Leopold (2)
1 - 0 BUF
Derek Roy (4) ASST: Jochen Hecht (1), Drew Stafford (2)
2 - 0 BUF
PPG - Patrick Kane (1) ASST: Duncan Keith (1)
2 - 1 BUF
2nd Period
Nick Leddy (1) ASST: Nick Boynton (1), Tomas Kopecky (3)
2 - 2 Tie
Marian Hossa (2) ASST: Bryan Bickell (1)
3 - 2 CHI
3rd Period
Marian Hossa (3) ASST: NONE
4 - 2 CHI
Tim Connolly (1) ASST: Steve Montador (1), Tyler Ennis (4)
4 - 3 CHI
penalty summary
1st Period
Dave Bolland  Hooking against  Rob Niedermayer
Tim Connolly  Tripping against  Marian Hossa
Niklas Hjalmarsson  Boarding (maj) against  Jason Pominville
Niklas Hjalmarsson  Game misconduct
2nd Period
Jake Dowell  Fighting (maj) against  Cody McCormick
Cody McCormick  Fighting (maj) against  Jake Dowell
Patrick Kaleta  Interference against  Viktor Stalberg
Marian Hossa  Interference against  Tyler Myers
3rd Period
Tomas Kopecky  Delaying Game-Puck over glass
Shaone Morrisonn  Hooking against  Tomas Kopecky
Bryan Bickell  Too many men/ice - bench
goalie stats
Corey Crawford
SA: 35TOI: 59:54
Saves: 32EV: 25 - 28
PIM: 0PP: 7 - 7
SV%: .914SH: 0 - 0
Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller
SA: 30TOI: 58:33
Saves: 26EV: 19 - 22
PIM: 0PP: 5 - 6
SV%: .867SH: 2 - 2