No easy victories yet for Hawks
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Ben Smith, center, celebrates his first-period goal Saturday with teammates at United Center.
For the second straight night, the Blackhawks scored just enough goals to win.
The Hawks beat Buffalo 2-1 at the United Center on Saturday on Patrick Kane's second period power-play goal despite outshooting the winless Sabres 40-29.
That's the third time this season the Hawks have outshot their opponent by a somewhat wide margin only to either hang on to win or lose in a shootout.
The Hawks missed the net 15 more times, which coach Joel Quenneville blames for the offensive struggles.
"The generating of quality and quantity and the flow of the game in five games is exactly what we want," Quenneville said. "The finish and what it takes to score in this league, maybe we need to be a little greasier around the net and hang around.
"We've missed the net, which I think is our biggest problem right now scoring goals. We're missing the net because the second chances are the ones that go in in our league."
As tough as it has been for the Hawks to score goals, it could always be worse.
Like Buffalo bad.
The Sabres (0-5-1) now have scored just 6 goals for the season, the worst start offensively since 1970-71, their first season in the NHL.
Hawks goalie Corey Crawford saved his best work for late when the Sabres tried to come back from a 2-0 deficit and pushed hard for the tie.
Crawford stopped 12 of 13 shots in the third period. He lost his shutout when Drew Stafford scored with 8:11 to play.
"I thought we were able to keep them to the outside for most of it," Crawford said. "We collapsed well on a couple scrambles at the end.
"It's never an easy game. They kind of hung around and their goalie (Ryan Miller) kept them in it. He made some big stops, but it definitely wasn't easy."
Ben Smith scored his first goal of the season in the first period before Kane made it 2-0 with his fourth goal in the second on a power play on a nice pass from Patrick Sharp.
Crawford took it from there.
"He's always a guy we know is going to bring his 'A' game," defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "He's been so solid for us all last year and the beginning of this season. We know we've got a great goalie."
The Hawks have at least 1 power-play goal in four of their five games.
"It was nice to see the power play strike after a few chances," said Kane, a native of Buffalo. "We had some good time in the zone, which was big tonight.
"It's a thrill anytime you score a goal, but to do it against the team I grew up watching is always special."
The second period was a goalie clinic with Crawford and Miller exchanging great save after great save. Miller stopped 35 of 37 shots in the first two periods.
"He's a great goaltender; I've seen it first hand at the Olympics a few years ago," Kane said. "Just from talking to him over the summer, I think he's out to prove his worth that he's a top-notch goaltender in this league.
"I think he's going to be facing a lot of pucks every night playing for a team like Buffalo, a young club like that without too much experience. I thought he kept them in the game tonight and gave them a shot."
Smith's goal at 9:26 of the first period opened the scoring. Smith was camped in the slot and tipped a shot by Brent Seabrook past Miller.
• Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.
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