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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, March 9th (All times Eastern)

Chicago Blackhawks (37-13-14) at Buffalo Sabres (19-36-8), 7:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Blackhawks recently capped a three-game homestand with an emphatic win, and the defending Stanley Cup champions will try to keep rolling when they visit the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.

Chicago won two of three games during its stay at the United Center. The club began the homestand with a 5-1 win over Pittsburgh on March 1 and fell to Colorado on Tuesday before posting another blowout win in Thursday's tilt against Columbus.

The Blackhawks slammed the visiting Blue Jackets by a 6-1 score. Jonathan Toews and Andrew Shaw both tallied twice to lead the way in the rout as Chicago picked up its 12th straight win over Columbus.

Bryan Bickell and Brandon Bollig also hit the back of the net for the Blackhawks. Brent Seabrook and Marcus Kruger each collected two assists, while Corey Crawford stopped 22 shots.

Chicago enters Sunday four points behind St. Louis for first place in the Central Division standings and the Blackhawks are just one point in front of Colorado for the last of the division's three automatic playoff bids. The Blues play in Minnesota on Sunday while the Avalanche are idle.

The Blackhawks are playing two straight on the road beginning with Sunday's test. Chicago is 17-8-7 as the guest this season and will complete its brief swing with an important divisional tilt Wednesday against Colorado.

Chicago recorded a 2-1 win over a visiting Sabres club back on Oct. 12. Buffalo native Patrick Kane scored the game-winner in that contest and he has compiled three goals and three assists in seven career games against his hometown team.

The Blackhawks have won four straight and five of the last six meetings in this series.

Buffalo is last in the NHL with only 46 points on the season, but the club has won its last three home games and is 12-17-5 as the host heading into Sunday's game at First Niagara Center.

The Sabres went 1-2-0 on a recent three-game road trip and dropped the finale of that swing Friday against the Florida Panthers. Buffalo was stymied by Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo, who stopped all 25 shots in a 2-0 win for Florida.

Although Buffalo's offense couldn't get anything going, newly acquired goaltender Michal Neuvirth made a splash in his debut with 42 saves for the Sabres. Neuvirth was acquired at the trade deadline from the Washington Capitals.

"I was very impressed," Sabres head coach Ted Nolan said of Neuvirth. "He was very calm. His rebound control was solid. He had great positioning all night."

The Sabres are playing their next two games on home ice and will cap their brief stay in Western New York in Tuesday's tilt against Nashville.

Buffalo forwards Zemgus Girgensons, Chris Stewart and Torrey Mitchell all missed Friday's game due to lower-body injuries and are questionable for tonight's game. All three players were injured in Thursday's game against Tampa. Both Mitchell and Stewart were recently acquired in trades by the Sabres.

Cory Conacher, another player picked up recently by Buffalo, has yet to play with the Sabres after being claimed off waivers from Ottawa. Conacher is dealing with immigration issues, but that issue could be settled in time for him to play Sunday for the Sabres.

03/09 10:45:02 ET