CHICAGO (AP) Phillip Danault scored his first NHL goal, Corey Crawford made 28 saves and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 on Friday night for their sixth consecutive victory.
Niklas Hjalmarsson and Jonathan Toews also scored for Chicago, and Crawford remained perfect in seven career starts against Buffalo. The Blackhawks have won nine in a row against the Sabres.
Ryan O'Reilly had Buffalo’s only goal in the Sabres’ sixth consecutive loss. Chad Johnson had 42 stops in a terrific performance.
Jamie McGinn made a great pass from behind the net to set up O’Reilly’s team-best 17th goal at 11:37 of the third, tying it at 1. But Danault put Chicago ahead to stay when he skated around Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen and beat Johnson on the goaltender’s blocker side with 4:59 left.
The 22-year-old Danault then skated around, jumped up briefly and yelled “Wooo!” before looking toward the roof of the United Center. Toews added an empty-netter with 25 seconds remaining for his 15th of the season.
The only goal in the first two periods was set up by a crisp passing sequence by Chicago. Toews sent a cross-ice pass to rookie Erik Gustafsson, who made a nice touch pass to a streaking Hjalmarsson in the middle.
Hjalmarsson skated in and beat Johnson with a rising shot over the goaltender’s glove at 18:26 of the first. It was the defenseman’s second goal of the season and No. 18 for his career.
Evander Kane had two of Buffalo’s best chances in the first part of the game. He shot it off the outside of the left post with about 4 minutes to go in the first, and then was denied by Crawford on a strong glove save with 7:33 left in the second.
Chicago center Artem Anisimov had a breakaway chance in the first, but Johnson got over to stop his backhand try. Johnson also knocked away a prime opportunity for Toews about 30 seconds in the second.
NOTES: Blackhawks RW Marian Hossa has no goals and five assists in his last 14 games, but Chicago is 11-3 during his scoring drought. … Buffalo’s last win over Chicago was a 2-1 victory on Dec. 11, 2009. … Chicago D Duncan Keith had two assists.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap