Chicago Blackhawks' Forsling seals OT win over Sabres

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Blackhawks center Nick Schmaltz (8) advances the puck as Duncan Keith (2) looks on against the Buffalo Sabres during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday Dec. 8, 2017, in Chicago.

    Chicago Blackhawks center Nick Schmaltz (8) advances the puck as Duncan Keith (2) looks on against the Buffalo Sabres during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday Dec. 8, 2017, in Chicago.

 
 

With the dreadful Buffalo Sabres in town and Corey Crawford returning to the net, it figured to be a walk in the park for the Blackhawks at the United Center on Friday.

Instead, the Hawks barely escaped with a 3-2 overtime victory thanks to Tommy Wingels' short-handed goal with 3:22 left in regulation and Gustav Forsling's game-winner with five seconds left in OT.

The Hawks dominated most of the night, but Robin Lehner made 48 saves and his Sabres teammates blocked another 31 attempts as Buffalo nearly pulled off an unlikely upset.

"You can play well and lose and the confidence doesn't grow," said Wingels, who now has 3 goals. "You've got to find a way to win and we did that. We'll feel good about that tonight and try to keep a streak going here."

The Hawks (13-11-5) snapped a five-game losing streak and have now won 12 straight vs. Buffalo.

"We had to win," said Hawks coach Joel Quenneville. "I just don't think it was good enough and let's gain some excitement, some momentum off one win and knowing we have to be better in all areas and all aspects of the game."

Crawford, who missed the last three games with a lower-body injury, only had to make 26 saves to record his 12th victory.

"It's nice to play again," Crawford said. "I thought we played a great game. We didn't really give up that much on their side and we had a lot of chances. It was a big win for us."

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The Hawks trailed 1-0 after the first period despite outshooting Buffalo 13-5. The Sabres got on the board with 18 seconds left when Jason Pominville scored to snap a 0-for-30 drought on the power-play for Buffalo.

Alex DeBrincat put the Hawks on the board at 8:30 of the second period with the Hawks on the power play, but Buffalo regained the lead 2.5 minutes later on a Kyle Okposo goal.

Things looked bleak for the Hawks when Brent Seabrook was whistled for interference at 15:25 of the third period, but Wingels tied it after redirecting a pass from Forsling.

Jack Eichel had a chance to win it for Buffalo on a penalty shot after Forsling held him on a breakaway with 1:31 left in OT, but Crawford made the save.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I've got a chance to win the game in overtime, I don't do it," Eichel said. "I need to score that goal. This sucks. It feels like (crap)."

On the game-winner, Forsling bought himself some time by skating back near the blue line, waited until he saw an opening and unleashed a shot that slid through Lehner's legs. The Hawks' young D-man had a 3-point night and has shown great progress in his second NHL season.

"He's an incredible player," Wingels said. "His poise and patience with the puck -- he never looks like he has an elevated heart rate out there. And I mean that in the best way.

"Whether it's in the D zone or in the corner, or whether it's lugging the puck up the ice, he is a very confident player. It shows in his game, it shows in how other players read and react with him out there. It's impressive to watch."

Five players had at least 5 shots on goal for the Hawks, with Brandon Saad leading the way (6). The Hawks finished with 95 total shots.

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