The Chicago Blackhawks hope their bye week and the All-Star break haven't dulled their recent momentum.
The Blackhawks, who won their final two games before the break to salvage a disappointing January, return to the ice Friday night at Buffalo.
Chicago defeated the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals 8-5 and eked out a 3-2 shootout victory against the New York Islanders, who had been riding a five-game winning streak, before its hiatus.
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane led the way in both games. Toews and Kane both scored in the shootout against the Islanders, after Toews had a goal in regulation and Kane had an assist to stretch his point streak to nine games.
Against Washington, Toews had three goals and two assists and Kane added two goals and three assists as the Blackhawks snapped a five-game skid. They won just once in their first eight games in January.
"Well, we got our confidence," Toews said after the New York game.
"We're relaxed. It's nice for us to be able to make a big difference for our team right now. For a long time it was almost not a great feeling."
The Blackhawks also scored a power-play goal for the ninth straight game.
"Guys are making a lot of plays. It's fun, fun to watch," Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. "They're making great reads and just being clean with the puck."
The Sabres, who will open a franchise-record seven-game homestand, will be playing their third game since their break. They won 5-4 at Columbus on Tuesday night before suffering a 1-0 defeat Wednesday at Dallas.
"There are no moral victories at this point of the season. It's either you get two points or you don't at this point," Sabres forward Jack Eichel said after the Dallas loss. "We didn't get two points tonight so it's back to the drawing board. We've got a big game and a long homestretch we need to take advantage of."
The Sabres appeared to score the tying goal 4:28 into the third period Wednesday when Marco Scandella's shot from the left point went into the net. The goal was disallowed because a referee ruled Nathan Beaulieu interfered with Stars goaltender Ben Bishop.
The Sabres challenged the call, but a replay review upheld the decision.
"I was just driving the net," Beaulieu said. "On replay, it felt like I got pushed in, but it can go either way. I'm not going to argue. You can't overturn it now. You've just got to live with it."
Sabres coach Phil Housley defended his team's challenge.
"It could've gone either way. I knew the call on the ice was a no goal, but I thought it was a good time to challenge. Unfortunately, it didn't go our way," he said.
The Sabres, who are 14-6-3 at KeyBank Center this season, hope their lengthy homestand can put them back in playoff positioning. They are third in the race for the Eastern Conference's two wild-card berths.
"We've got a seven-game homestand," goaltender Linus Ullmark said. "We've just got to bring the pace, bring the tempo and bring out greatest effort into those games."
--Field Level Media
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