The Buffalo Sabres came into the United Center losing their last 5 games. The Chicago Blackhawks came into the United Center winning their last 5 games. Odds would favor the Blackhawks, no? Well, it did, as Phillip Danault scored his first NHL goal, which proved to be the game-winner, despite the great play of Buffalo goalie, Chad Johnson.
Johnson stood on his head, among other things in the 1st period as the Anisimov-Kane-Panarin line were flying around the net like vultures. Of the 11 shots that the Hawks had that period, 5 came from the Anisimov line and 6 came from defensemen. One of those shots found the back of the net thanks to a Niklas Hjalmarsson wrist shot that finally solved Johnson who received a nice pass from Erik Gustafsson, with less than 2 minutes remaining in the period.
The 2nd period began where the 1st ended. The Blackhawks had golden opportunities and Johnson rejected shot after shot. In the latter half of the period, the Sabres started to show life and it was Corey Crawford's turn to shine. He made a couple of great saves, including a huge one on a Buffalo power play. The Hawks would then start putting more pressure back on Johnson again, but he was up to the test as he shutdown the Hawks in the 2nd, stopping all 19 shots. At the end of two periods, the Hawks had a shot advantage of 30-23, and the 1-0 lead.
The 3rd period found Johnson yet again denying shots. It took till the 12 minute mark of the 3rd for the Sabres to solve Crawford as Blackhawk nemesis, Ryan O'Reilly roofed a shot over Crawford to tie the game at 1. With 5 minutes left, it was Phillip Danault, who has been playing great from his call up, scored his first career NHL goal to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead. It proved to be the game-winner as Jonathan Toews ended the scoring with an empty net goal to help the Blackhawks win their 6th game in a row.
Notable mentions: The two Blackhawk rookies, Phillip Danault and Erik Gustafsson had great games. Both showed up on the scoreboard and had solid games. Jonathan Toews now has 11 points in his last 11 games (6G 5A). Duncan Keith now has 21 points in his last 22 games (5G 16A).
Three Stars Of The Game
1st - CHI - Phillip Danault - 1G
2nd - CHI - Corey Crawford - 29 Saves .966 SV%
3rd - BUF - Chad Johnson - 44 Saves .955 SV%
Next Game: Sunday, January 10, Home versus Colorado Avalanche 6PM CT