Sabres lose game, Pominville
Blackhawks earn 1st win of season
Buffalo Sabres forward Jason Pominville was strapped to a stretcher and wheeled off the ice late in the first period of the team's loss at home against the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night.
Marian Hossa scored twice, Nick Leddy got his first career NHL goal, and Corey Crawford shrugged off a shaky start to win his second NHL game in goal in Chicago's 4-3 victory.
With the score 2-1 for Buffalo, Pominville was felled at the side boards on a hit by Chicago defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson. Pominville's helmet made contact with the glass on impact and he slumped to the ice.
After several minutes of medical attention, Pominville, 27, lifted his arm to acknowledge the crowd as he was led off.
Hjalmarrson was given a five-minute penalty for boarding and a game misconduct.
Pominville entered the game as the team's active leader in consecutive games played with 335.
The Sabres later said Pominville sustained a concussion, and was diagnosed in the building without going to a hospital.
"You never want to see someone laying on the ice like that," Hjalmarsson said. "I thought it was a shoulder-to-shoulder hit. It's good to know that he's up and walking, and hopefully he'll get back as soon as possible."
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff didn't speculate whether or not he thinks Hjalmarsson will be suspended.
"It'll be interesting," he said. "[Hjalmarsson] made a big mistake. He caught a player in a tough spot."
Crawford, meanwhile, admitted that he was plenty nervous at the beginning of his first start of the season, and ninth NHL appearance. Allowing a pair of goals in the game's first 2:43 didn't help much, but the rookie settled down to finish with 32 saves.
"A little panic sets into your head, but you have to try and brush that away," Crawford said. "I just kept battling and stuck with it."
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said he was thinking about pulling Crawford in favour of veteran Marty Turco, but was happy he stuck with the 25-year-old.
"All those options go through your mind," Quenneville said. "It was a tough start, but we persevered."
Crawford helped preserve the win with a sparkling left pad save on Buffalo forward Mike Grier's attempt from the slot with just over three minutes to go, and the Blackhawks allowed just one shot during a Sabres power play that began with 2:28 to go and with Miller off for an extra attacker for the majority of the advantage.
"What a save he made there," Quenneville said about the Grier stop. "It was out of nowhere."
Western New York product Patrick Kane also scored for the Blackhawks, who had lost their first two games of the season.
"We really needed this win," Hossa said. "The five-minute kill helped us, and we tightened up defensively."
Drew Stafford and Derek Roy each had a goal and assist, and Tim Connolly also scored for the Sabres, who've lost two straight after a season-opening win at Ottawa.
Ryan Miller finished with 26 saves.
With Chicago up 3-2 after two periods, Hossa notched his second of the game, and third of the season, 3:36 into the third with a wrist shot from the lower left circle that went under Miller's glove.
Connolly made it 4-3 less than two minutes later when he whipped a shot in from in tight.
Stafford opened the scoring just 14 seconds in when his wrist shot from the inner edge of the left circle eluded Crawford.
Roy made it 2-0 for Buffalo with his fourth of the season 2:29 later.
The Blackhawks responded with four straight goals, starting with Kane cutting the deficit in half with a power-play goal at 7:44 of the first.
Leddy tied it after his slap shot went off Buffalo defenceman Shaone Morrisonn's skate near the crease four minutes into the second.
Hossa gave Chicago its first lead with 1:13 remaining in the middle frame when he went in alone from the blue-line and slipped a shot from the slot past Miller.
"They wound up getting one off their skate, but that's what happens when you get pucks on the net," Sabres captain Craig Rivet said. "We would like to take a few of those situations back."
With files from CBCSports.ca