for this game

Toews, Versteeg keep Blackhawks rolling at home

Jan 15, 2009 - 6:29 AM
CHICAGO (Ticker) -- The Chicago Blackhawks are becoming quite a force at the United Center.

Captain Jonathan Toews recorded a goal and an assist and rookie Kris Versteeg set up a pair of tallies as the Blackhawks skated to a 4-1 triumph Wednesday over the Buffalo Sabres.

Patrick Sharp, Martin Havlat and defenseman James Wisniewski also scored for the Blackhawks, who have won eight of their last nine home games, with the only loss coming against the Detroit Red Wings in the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field.

"Obviously, we're feeding off of our home crowd," said Chicago coach Joel Quenneville, whose team is 14-2-4 overall at home. "That has a lot to do with it. We're taking pride in this building and defending our home ice. We still have to play the game that's in front of us, and we're making better decisions and doing that."

"We're confident in our building and we're enjoying our success here and trying to build off that every night," Toews added. "We didn't know the opposition too well tonight, but we know they have skill, so we tried to make things tough on their better players. That, and sticking to the game plan, helped us get the win."

Cristobal Huet made 22 saves for Chicago, which halted a four-game winless streak against Buffalo (0-3-0 with one tie) and improved to 23-8-6 since Quenneville took over for the fired Denis Savard on October 16.

Ales Kotalik tallied for the Sabres, who have dropped two in a row following a four-game winning streak.

Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff believed he knew what his team's downfall was in this one.

"I thought the odd-man rushes, where we did not score on ours," he said. "We had some great opportunities and didn't get shots off. They had a few, like Havlat's, and they take advantage of it."

Unbeaten at the United Center since dropping a 6-5 decision to the San Jose Sharks on November 16, the Blackhawks fell behind in this one when Kotalik beat Huet to the stick side with a shot from the low slot at 10:32 of the first period after receiving a pass from the bottom of the right faceoff circle by Adam Mair.

But that proved to be all Buffalo could muster as Chicago scored four unanswered goals en route to its fourth win in its last six games overall.

Sharp began the outburst with his team-leading 21st of the season, chipping the rebound of Ben Eager's shot from the slot over the stick of former Blackhawks goaltender Patrick Lalime with 4:24 remaining in the opening session.

Toews put Chicago ahead for good less than three minutes later. After Lalime initially stopped the captain's wrist shot from the left circle, the puck fell to the ice and into the net with 1:55 left, giving the All-Star his 12th goal of the campaign and the Blackhawks a 2-1 edge.

"The puck hit me on the shoulder and I thought it came out," Lalime said. "But it dropped into my blocker, and when I turned, it dropped and went into the net."

Havlat doubled the advantage at 5:53 of the second, carrying the puck down the left wing on a 3-on-1 rush and firing it over Lalime's right shoulder for his 13th tally.

Wisniewski capped the scoring with his first of the season, firing a one-timer from the left point past Lalime just 17 seconds into the third period.

"It was nice to get it, finally," Wisniewski said. "I think I have more shots than anyone on the team since I returned (from injury) 12 games back and didn't have a goal. Toews found me with a nice pass and I had a seeing-eye shot."

Lalime turned aside 21 shots in his return to Chicago.

"It was nice to come back and see everybody, but I wish the game could have gone better," he said. "They had a couple of breaks and they were able to capitalize on them."

In the second period, Buffalo's Drew Stafford leveled Chicago's Duncan Keith with a blow to the head, knocking the defenseman out of the game and drawing the ire of Blackhawks enforcer Ben Eager, who received a two-minute penalty for cross-checking and a double-minor for roughing after coming to Keith's defense.

"(Keith) was coming across the middle with his head down," Stafford said. "I hope he's OK. I'm not trying to hurt anyone, just trying to finish a check. I know they'll take exception to it."

Eager disagreed with Stafford's explanation.

"It's a dirty hit, shoulder to head, " Eager said. "That guy has maybe two hits and they have been through it before, so they should know better. I'm sure nothing will come of it (from the NHL) because it was a skilled guy that hit Duncan, but we'll see."

Despite having six minutes of uninterrupted power-play time, the Sabres were unable to cash in.

"Our power play wasn't very good, and they got momentum from that," Ruff said. "We have to be better than we were there."

"We need to bury something on that power play," Stafford said. "We didn't capitalize on our chances."

Toews was impressed with his team's ability to successfully kill the penalties.

"I couldn't believe that," he said. "I haven't seen that in a long time. It was, like, six minutes. I didn't understand that, and it makes you nervous. As it wound down, the crowd went crazy, and we got momentum from that."

Entering with the league's seventh-best penalty-killing unit, Chicago has held its opponents scoreless with the man advantage in 11 of its last 16 games.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUFFALO 1 0 0 1
    CHICAGO 2 1 1 4 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: BUF - ALES KOTALIK 9 (ADAM MAIR, TEPPO NUMMINEN) 10:32
    CHI - PATRICK SHARP 21 (BEN EAGER, DUNCAN KEITH) 15:36
    CHI - JONATHAN TOEWS 12 (KRIS VERSTEEG) 18:05
    2ND PRD: CHI - MARTIN HAVLAT 13 (ANDREW LADD, MATT WALKER) 5:

    Jan 14 10:59 PM
  • 20
    roots
    #1 Cards Fan Added 10 roots

    Sabres 1, Blackhawks 4  3rd - 19:43Jan 14 10:27 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 1
    CHICAGO 4
    3RD PRD: CHI - JAMES WISNIEWSKI 1 (JONATHAN TOEWS, KRIS VERSTEEG) 0:17

    Sabres 1, Blackhawks 4  3rd - 19:43Jan 14 10:26 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUFFALO 1 0 1
    CHICAGO 2 1 3 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: BUF - ALES KOTALIK 9 (ADAM MAIR, TEPPO NUMMINEN) 10:32
    CHI - PATRICK SHARP 21 (BEN EAGER, DUNCAN KEITH) 15:36
    CHI - JONATHAN TOEWS 12 (KRIS VERSTEEG) 18:05
    2ND PRD: CHI - MARTIN HAVLAT 13 (ANDREW LADD, MA

    Jan 14 10:08 PM
  • 10
    roots
    McTool Added 5 roots

    Sabres 1, Blackhawks 3  2nd - 11:09Jan 14 9:49 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 1
    CHICAGO 3
    2ND PRD: CHI - MARTIN HAVLAT 13 (ANDREW LADD, MATT WALKER) 5:53

    Sabres 1, Blackhawks 3  2nd - 14:07Jan 14 9:44 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUFFALO 1 1
    CHICAGO 2 2 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: BUF - ALES KOTALIK 9 (ADAM MAIR, TEPPO NUMMINEN) 10:32
    CHI - PATRICK SHARP 21 (BEN EAGER, DUNCAN KEITH) 15:36
    CHI - JONATHAN TOEWS 12 (KRIS VERSTEEG) 18:05
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    ---

    Jan 14 9:15 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 1
    CHICAGO 2
    1ST PRD: CHI - JONATHAN TOEWS 12 (KRIS VERSTEEG) 18:05

    Sabres 1, Blackhawks 2  1st - 1:55Jan 14 9:11 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 1
    CHICAGO 1
    1ST PRD: CHI - PATRICK SHARP 21 (BEN EAGER, DUNCAN KEITH) 15:36

    Sabres 1, Blackhawks 1  1st - 4:24Jan 14 9:04 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 1
    CHICAGO 0
    1ST PRD: BUF - ALES KOTALIK 9 (ADAM MAIR, TEPPO NUMMINEN) 10:32

    Sabres 1, Blackhawks 0  1st - 9:28Jan 14 8:57 PM
  • 5
    roots
    bouch Added 5 roots

    Sabres 0, Blackhawks 0  1st - 12:00Jan 14 8:55 PM