Sabres host Blackhawks with playoff spot within reach

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres have a chance to head into their week off on a high note -- one that seemed close to impossible only a few weeks ago.

Buffalo rides a three-game winning streak into Sunday afternoon's game against the Chicago Blackhawks and a victory could move them into the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

"We're looking at stringing three together, being four of five here," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "And when you're playing games that close together it adds up pretty quickly when you can win three in a row, you can get four of five and add eight points to the column ... and we've got one more chance at it before the break here."

The Sabres (26-23-10) are coming off a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. Buffalo ended a six-game win streak for the Blues by jumping out to a 3-1 lead and holding off an aggressive attack in the third period.

One key for the Sabres in recent games has been the play of goaltender Robin Lehner. Ever since calling out his teammates following a loss to Vancouver one week ago, Lehner has been exceptional and his teammates responded in kind.

Lehner made 37 saves against St. Louis and made sure Buffalo remained on top despite being outshot 17-7 in the third period.

"As I said before, it's the small, minor details that's been hurting us," Lehner said. "It's not been many times this year where I felt we could complain about our effort. ... Slowly but surely we're starting to put them together but still, we've got a big game here (Sunday)."

Power forward Evander Kane is leading the way on offense for Buffalo with six goals in his past six games. Kane had a goal and an assist against St. Louis, reaching the 20-goal mark for the second season in a row.

"(Chicago has) a lot of talent up front, they're a puck possession team, and we're going to have to have a lot of what we had tonight," Kane said.

The Blackhawks (35-18-5) had a five-game win streak come to a close Saturday in a 3-1 home loss to the Edmonton Oilers. Chicago was playing for the first time in a week after defeating Edmonton 5-1 and Winnipeg 5-2.

The Blackhawks fell Saturday despite putting 39 shots on net.

"I didn't mind how we played," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "I still thought we had generated enough throughout the game. Didn't give up much. I think we'd probably be happy with that effort or that game for most nights and generally would come out with something better than a loss."

Buffalo native Patrick Kane leads the Blackhawks in points with 58 (19 goals, 39 assists).
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