(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Blackhawks aim to avoid their first loss to Buffalo in nearly five years on Saturday night when they play their home opener against the Sabres.
Following a Game 7 setback to the Los Angeles Kings in last season's Western Conference finals, the Blackhawks opened up the current campaign with a 3-2 shootout win over the hosting Dallas Stars on Thursday.
Patrick Kane had the lone goal in the tiebreaker, lifting a backhander over Dallas netminder Kari Lehtonen, and Corey Crawford turned aside all three shooters he faced after making 32 saves through overtime.
Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp both tallied a goal and an assist in regulation for Chicago, which won for the seventh time in a row in Dallas. Sharp tied the game with a power-play goal with 8:50 to go in regulation.
"It's their home building (and) the first game of the year," Keith said. "I think we kind of just stuck with it and got a little bit better. We were able to make some plays, kill some penalties and we capitalized on the power play late."
Chicago will play its next four games at home and has won its past five meetings with Buffalo. The Sabres have not beat the Blackhawks since Dec. 11, 2009 in Buffalo.
The 'Hawks also have won four in a row at home in this series, with the Sabres last winning in Chicago on Jan. 10, 2007.
The Sabres hope to rebound following a 3-1 setback to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday, yielding a pair of goals in the third period. Both came against a heavily-tested Jhonas Enroth, who made 37 saves on 40 shots faced.
"I thought it was OK at best," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said of his team's performance. "They took it to us for most of the game."
Zemgus Girgensons had the lone Buffalo goal and forward Sam Reinhart, the second overall pick of the recent draft, did not have a shot in 13 minutes and 37 seconds of ice time.
"He was OK for an 18-year-old kid jumping into (a game) against a team like Columbus, which is a pretty quick team. He gets to do it again next game against Chicago," noted Nolan of Reinhart.
Reinhart was one of five players making their Sabres debut, joining Brian Gionta, Josh Gorges, Andre Benoit and Andrej Meszaros.