CHICAGO – Patrick Sharp made the most of his few opportunities Saturday night.
Sharp scored his second goal of the game with 7:08 left in the third, powering the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
Sharp rammed in a rebound off Tomas Kopecky’s point-blank attempt on the power play, sending defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago to its first win at home this season after two losses. He converted two of his three shots to give him four goals in two nights.
“The puck’s just going in,” said Sharp, who had two goals on 13 shots in a 5-2 win at Columbus on Friday night. “It was a little different game, a little more intense than we’ve had up to this point in the season.”
“I thought we rose to the occasion pretty good,” he added. “I thought we stood up for ourselves there and got better as the game went on.”
Marian Hossa and Dave Bolland also scored for the Blackhawks, who were outshot 41-21. Marty Turco made 38 stops for Chicago.
“There are no perfect games. We strive for them, but that was pretty far from it,” Turco said. “We weren’t our best in the first, but as the game went on, we just kept getting better and better.
“We got some timely big goals, big plays, tons of blocks and huge penalty kills, especially near the end. Those are the things you’re going to have to do in order to win and be successful.”
And Turco, who signed as a free agent over the summer to replace playoff hero Antti Niemi, was a huge part of the equation.
“I thought that was a goalie win,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Over the course of the year you get a few and that’s one of them. I thought he made several key saves, particularly as we went down the stretch.”
Drew Stafford, Paul Gaustad and Cody McCormick scored for the Sabres, whose winless streak reached five games (0-4-1). Backup goalie Patrick Lalime made 17 saves in his first start of the season.
“We dominated for most of the game,” Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. “We made a couple of mistakes. I don’t know if we gave them more than a handful of chances.
“We had power plays. We had the puck in their zone. We had all kinds of opportunities. We just did take advantage of our key opportunities.”
Bolland tied it at 3-3 midway through the third by slipping behind the Buffalo defence, breaking in on goal and sliding a shot under Lalime.
Buffalo had a couple of late power plays but remains winless since a season-opening victory over Ottawa on Oct. 8.
“We deserved better,” Lalime said. “We put a great effort tonight. We had a lot of chances, and they basically scored on the chances they had. That was the difference.”
Chicago star Patrick Kane returned after missing Friday’s victory with an undisclosed illness. Defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson also was back after serving a two-game suspension for a hit on Buffalo’s Jason Pominville last Monday.
The Sabres, who lost to Montreal at home on Friday night, controlled the first period and led 2-1 after 20 minutes.
After Buffalo took the first seven shots, Sharp scored on Chicago’s first attempt at 6:25. He finished a two-on-one break with Kane with his fourth goal of the season.
The rush was set up when Kane pounced on a turnover by Buffalo’s Tyler Myers at the Sabres’ blue line and raced the length of the ice.
The Sabres responded immediately, scoring twice in 15 seconds.
Stafford beat Turco at 6:52, converting a backhander off a rebound of Steve Montador’s drive from the right circle. Gaustad’s goal at 7:07 withstood a video review and made it 2-1.
Turco stopped Gaustad’s shot from the left circle, but Chicago rookie defenceman Nick Leddy knocked the puck in with his skate as he and Buffalo’s Nathan Gerbe drove to and collided with the net.
Hossa tied it at 1:04 of the second when he broke in alone from just outside the Buffalo blue line after taking Brent Seabrook’s pass from deep in the Chicago zone.
McCormick put Buffalo in front again with 2:45 left in the second. He was left uncovered in front of the net, and jammed Jochen Hecht’s feed under Turco.
NOTES: Pominville missed his third game with a concussion suffered in the collision with Hjalmarsson. Buffalo D Shaone Morrisonn missed the game with a groin injury. … Chicago D Jordan Hendry and RW Jack Skille were healthy scratches.