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Buffalo at Chicago

Miller less than minute away from shutout bid for Sabres

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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CHICAGO -- The high-scoring Buffalo Sabres can win when their offense has a slow night. Their defense and goaltending is pretty good, too.

Ryan Miller made 34 saves and Jochen Hecht and Maxim Afinogenov scored to lead the Sabres to a 2-1 victory over the slumping Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night.

Miller wasn't heavily tested by sputtering Chicago, which lost its fourth straight. He lost a bid for his second shutout of the season when Denis Arkhipov scored a short-handed goal with 49.1 seconds left in the game.

With Chicago goalie Nikolai Khabibulin on the bench for an extra attacker, Arkhipov's shot clanked off the right post. It then hit the pads of Miller, who had sprawled forward on the ice, and deflected across the goal line.

"I'm saving them for later," Miller said of the lost shutout, "but it was a little frustrating with them scoring late in the game. It was a 2-0 game and gave them life.

"They had a few opportunities, but we did a good job of making them do the things they didn't want to do," he added. "We did play a good defensive game and played a frustrating style against them and it paid off."

The Sabres, who lead the NHL with 166 goals, improved to 7-2-1 in their last 10 with their second straight win. They have 65 points, tied with Anaheim for the league lead.

"We had a lot of power plays in the first period and weren't able to get a lead on any of those," Hecht said. "But we didn't give up any odd-man rushes and that's what we want to do."

Chicago is 1-6-0 in its last seven games following a 9-3-3 stretch immediately after Denis Savard took over as coach on Nov. 27.

The Blackhawks are struggling offensively, especially without their top forward. Martin Havlat, who missed 19 games earlier this season with a sprained ankle, sat out his third straight game Wednesday due to a groin pull.

Chicago is 11-9-1 with Havlat in the lineup. Without him, the Blackhawks are 6-12-4

"We need more traffic in front of the goalie," Savard said. "That's an everyday thing we talk about. You have to play in the tough areas.

"You can't be beside the net," he added. "You've got to be right in front of the goalie."

Buffalo center Chris Drury was able to return to the game midway through the second period after hobbling off the ice early in the first.

Drury suffered what seemed like a potentially serious injury at 7:54 of the first when he was struck in the foot by a shot from teammate Jaroslav Spacek and then cross-checked by Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith.

Drury, who has 22 goals and 19 assists in 41 games, was helped off the ice by two teammates and went directly to the Sabres' dressing room.

"It says a lot about him that he could come back and play," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "He had an X-ray and they looked negative. The good sign is he finished the game."

Hecht scored the only goal of the first period, at 4:47.

Khabibulin, making his 16th straight start, stopped Jason Pominville's shot from the slot and followed with a pad save on Hecht's first rebound attempt from the left edge of the crease. Hecht, who was left unchecked, then jammed in a second rebound.

Afinogenov made it 2-0 at 2:56 of the third with his 20th goal. After skating down right wing, he slid a shot between Khabibulin's pads from a sharp angle.

Miller made one of his few tough saves -- point blank on Chicago's Craig MacDonald -- with just over two minutes left.

Notes

  • Chicago C Mikael Holmqvist was a healthy scratch.
  • The Blackhawks sent G Patrick Lalime, who hasn't played this season following surgery on a herniated disk, to Norfolk of the AHL for conditioning.
  • Buffalo D Henrik Tallinder missed his third game with a sprained ankle.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Jochen Hecht's 11th goal of the season helps the Sabres to their seventh win in the last 10 games. (AP)
Jochen Hecht's 11th goal of the season helps the Sabres to their seventh win in the last 10 games. (AP)

Scoreboard
Buffalo  (31-9-3) «1012
Chicago (17-21-5)0011
Three Stars
R. Miller
BUF


Saves: 34
Save Pct.: .971
M. Afinogenov
BUF


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0
A. Burish
CHI


Goals: 0
Assist(s): 0

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Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
04:47Jochen Hecht (11), Snap Shot - Assists: Jason Pominville, Daniel Briere
2ND PERIOD
None
3RD PERIOD
02:56Maxim Afinogenov (20), Slap Shot - Assists: Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy
19:10Short - Denis Arkhipov (6), Snap Shot - Assist: Brent Seabrook
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
02:26Aucoin: High sticking - 2 min.
06:55Hecht: Tripping - 2 min.
06:55Aucoin: Holding - 2 min.
07:54Keith: Cross Check - 2 min.
07:37Kukkonen: Interference - 2 min.
2ND PERIOD
01:55Spacek: Kneeing - 2 min.
01:55Seabrook: Roughing - 2 min.
01:55Spacek: Roughing - 2 min.
04:34Keith: Cross Check - 2 min.
10:40Afinogenov: Hooking - 2 min.
19:23Roy: Tripping - 2 min.
3RD PERIOD
14:50Lapointe: Holding - 2 min.
18:41Byfuglien: Holding the stick - 2 min.
SHOTS ON GOAL
 123T
Buffalo1210729
Chicago10111435
 
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