Sabres-Blackhawks Preview

The Associated Press

The Chicago Blackhawks have consistently earned points despite Patrick Sharp's absence. A visit from the reeling Buffalo Sabres might help them pick up another two on Wednesday night.

Chicago (27-13-6) is 3-0-1 in its last four games and topped a red-hot San Jose in its latest one Sunday.

Andrew Shaw's fourth goal in seven NHL games sealed the 4-3 win over the visiting Sharks, who were 6-0-2 over their previous eight. Dave Bolland and Viktor Stalberg also scored their fifth goals, respectively, over the last five contests.

Those contributions have helped the Blackhawks overcome the loss of Sharp to a fractured left wrist. The center, who had 20 goals and 20 assists when he suffered his injury Jan. 8, is expected to miss another two-to-three weeks.

"As a group, you try to fill the void. Obviously, he's been one of our top guys for the past couple of years," Stalberg said. "We've got enough talent to score without Sharp being here. If we play a defensive game like we did (against San Jose), we're going to get our chances."

Chicago could get plenty of chances against a Buffalo that's been outscored 36-12 during a franchise-worst nine consecutive road defeats in regulation. Since winning in Nashville on Dec. 3, the Sabres (19-21-5) are 5-10-4 overall and have lost 11 of 14.

"We've got to wake up," forward Jason Pominville said.

They've scored two or fewer goals in 10 of those 14 contests, including each of their last eight away from home. The Sabres were shut out for the second time in three road games Monday with a 5-0 drubbing by Detroit.

Former Vezina Trophy winner and 2010 Olympic MVP Ryan Miller gave up all five goals on 14 shots in the first 24:32 before being pulled. With that performance, he dropped to 3-7-0 with a 3.48 goals-against average over his last 11 games.

"I need to be better," Miller said. "I can't seem to find a night when I can get in a groove. I just don't know what it is."

The Sabres haven't found that groove in most of their recent matchups with the Blackhawks, losing three of four and giving up four goals in each defeat. Miller started only one of those contests, a 4-3 home loss Oct. 11, 2010, while backup Jhonas Enroth has never faced Chicago.

Buffalo also fell 4-3 at the United Center on Oct. 16, 2010, and Marian Hossa had a combined three goals over those two games. The Blackhawks leading scorer has six assists during a five-game point streak, and eight goals and four assists over his last 10 matchups with the Sabres.

Buffalo native Patrick Kane, who has one goal over his last 13 games and two points over his past six, has been productive against his hometown team with two goals and three assists in five lifetime meetings.

Blackhawks starting goaltender Corey Crawford - expected to start this game per the team's official Twitter feed - has faced the Sabres only once, making 32 saves in the victory at Buffalo last season.

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