Preview: Blackhawks at Sabres

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[December 19, 2015]  After seeing his name in the headlines throughout the summer, Chicago Blackhawks star forward Patrick Kane has created quite a few more with his sizzling play this season heading into Saturday afternoon's road tilt versus his hometown Buffalo Sabres. The subject of a sexual assault investigation in the summer, Kane - who was never charged - has highlighted the first two-plus months of the campaign with a franchise-best 26-game point streak to put himself as the early front-runner in the discussion for the Hart Trophy.

A longtime favorite in western New York, Kane is expected to receive an appreciative response at First Niagara Center on Saturday. The 27-year-old Kane, however, has torched his hometown club for nine points (five goals, four assists) in as many career meetings. While Chicago has won five of seven, Buffalo has emerged victorious in three of its last four overall and four of five at home. Chad Johnson has been fueling the Sabres' stretch, highlighted by a 44-save shutout in a 3-0 triumph over Anaheim on Thursday.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, WGN (Chicago), MSG-B (Buffalo)

ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (18-11-4): Corey Crawford recorded his third shutout in four games by turning aside all 33 shots he faced in Chicago's 4-0 victory over Edmonton on Thursday. "You just try to eliminate the waves (of goals allowed) and try to have more good (starts) than bad ones," Crawford told reporters after securing his career-high fifth blanking of the campaign. With a date against Western Conference foe San Jose on Sunday, the two-time Jennings Trophy winner may give way to Scott Darling - although the latter is 0-3-2 with a 3.41 goals-against average on the road.

ABOUT THE SABRES (14-16-3): Sidelined since Nov. 23 with an upper-body injury, forward Tyler Ennis is in line to make his return to the ice on Saturday. "You never want to wait, because you're competitive and you want to play," Ennis told the team's website. "It's tough to sit and watch, but at the same time, it's important to rest up and heal. I can't wait to play (Saturday)." Ennis was paired with rookie Jack Eichel and Evander Kane during practice on Friday for Buffalo, which shuffled forward Cal O'Reilly to Rochester of the American Hockey League.

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1. Chicago rookie Phillip Danault was recalled from Rockford of the AHL to fill the roster spot of fellow C Marcus Kruger, who is expected to be sidelined four months after undergoing surgery to repair a dislocated left wrist.

2. Buffalo will have six days off in a row following Saturday's game.

3. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews collected two goals and two assists in two meetings with the Sabres last season.

PREDICTION: Blackhawks 3, Sabres 1

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