The Buffalo Sabres upped the intensity in the third period of what ultimately was a loss in their most recent outing.
The energy is something they’ll look to replicate on Sunday night when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Sabres lost 3-2 to the Winnipeg Jets on Friday, twice falling behind by a pair of goals before closing the gap. After getting outshot 7-6 in the first period, they outshot Winnipeg 22-11 over the final two — including a 12-6 advantage in the third.
Chasing the game has been an issue for Buffalo, which has allowed the first goal in 11 of its 17 games.
“It’s a standard that we have to keep ourselves to, and we can’t wait for it to happen or wait to get down a goal, wait to get fired up by the coach or the captain or whoever’s talking on the bench,” forward Alex Tuch said.
“We have to go out there and find it within ourselves and, you know what? Guys have to elevate. If you’re not going to elevate this early in the season, why do it at all? We’ve got a really good team in here; we’ve got a team that cares about each other a lot. I thought we showed it [Friday].”
JJ Peterka scored his seventh goal of the season on Friday, moving him into a tie with Jeff Skinner for the team lead. Peterka, 21, who scored 12 goals in 77 games as a rookie last season, has 10 points (five goals, five assists) in his past 10 games.
“His confidence has increased day by day over the last year, and I think now he has felt like he earns and deserves more, and he’s going after it and getting it,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “On the flip side, I see that, feel that, and he’s gotten more ice time as a result. He continues to go in the right direction, and it’s nice to see.”
Like the Sabres, the Blackhawks enter Sunday’s contest on a three-game slide. Chicago most recently fell 4-2 to the Nashville Predators on Saturday.
After being held to a season-low 14 shots on goal in a 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday, the Blackhawks registered 31 shots against the Predators. And while the Blackhawks are happy with the volume, they know it’s all about execution.
“We definitely had times where we had a better shot mentality; I’d still like to push for more,” coach Luke Richardson said after the game. “I think if you see something, your first instinct is usually right, so we just got to keep building on that. I thought it was a good step in the right direction, but we got to make sure we’re hungry for more.”
One player looking to help with that is Taylor Hall.
Hall returned to the lineup Saturday after missing two games with a lower-body injury and fired a season-high five shots on goal. Hall, who also missed three games in late October with an injury, has four points (two goals, two assists) in nine games.
“He’s strong on the puck,” Richardson said. “He’s just going to get better. That was his first game back in, and we’ve seen that he continues to get stronger every game he plays.”
–Field Level Media