Patrick Kane's return to Buffalo was filled with boos -- and two huge goals.
The news-making Kane scored with 33.5 seconds left Saturday afternoon, pulling Chicago into a tie with the Sabres, then scored the only goal of the shootout to give the Blackhawks a 3-2 victory.
Kane, making his first public appearance in Western New York since the summer's sexual assault allegation, was booed every time he touched the puck. It was modest at first, full-throated by the time he skated in alone on Sabres goaltender Chad Johnson during the breakaway challenge.
He silenced the crowd with a slow approach and top-shelf shot to score.
Costly infractions: The Sabres went 57:27 without a penalty, then took two at once as Josh Gorges (holding) and Rasmus Ristolainen (high-sticking) went to the box with 2:33 to play. Chicago pulled goaltender Corey Crawford with 1:27 to go, setting up a successful six-on-three.
Artemi Panarin found Kane wide-open at the right side of the net, and the Buffalo native tied the game at 2-2 with 33.5 seconds left.
Staying in the box: Chicago maintained its five-on-three despite the Kane goal. Cody Franson went to the box for a cross-check delivered just before the puck went in. Franson's penalty carried into the opening 1:27 of overtime.
Missed chance: The Sabres had the game's last power play when Andrew Shaw took a hooking penalty with 2:10 left in overtime. Buffalo failed to capitalize, falling to 0 for 2 with the man-advantage for the day and 0 for 11 in the past four games.
Knowledge: Ryan O'Reilly and Sam Reinhart are usually the last two Sabres off the ice during practice. Their camaraderie paid off with 3:20 left. O'Reilly spun away from Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook in the corner, then fed Reinhart behind the net. Reinhart drew the Blackhawks toward his side of the ice, then sent the puck back to O'Reilly. The center scored into an open net to give Buffalo a 2-1 lead.
Quicker to the net: The Sabres tied the game, 1-1, with 6:37 gone in the second when Cody Franson proved to be faster than Crawford. Jack Eichel dumped the puck along the boards, and Crawford went behind the Blackhawks’ net in a failed attempt to play it. Franson got the puck near the outside hash marks and quickly fired a shot in off the far post as Crawford coasted back to the crease.
Crawford had a shutout in three of his previous four starts.
Boos for Kane: The first time Chicago’s Kane touched the puck, some boos came from his hometown crowd. His stunned backers eventually caught up with some cheers. The most intense jeering came when Kane circled through the Buffalo zone with the puck late in the first period.
Down again: For the 21st time in their 34 games, the Sabres fell into a 1-0 hole. Dennis Rasmussen picked up the puck at center ice, blew past Evander Kane along the right side and cut toward the crease. Rasmussen caught Johnson leaning toward the middle and put the puck home on the short side with 6:04 gone.
Rare tie: The teams hit the second intermission in a 1-1 deadlock, which was a rarity for both. Buffalo had been tied after two periods just three times, going 1-1-1, while Chicago was 3-2-3.
Late stop: Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook walked around Jake McCabe to get a breakaway with 5:50 left, but Johnson stayed with Seabrook to make a pad stop.
Shhhhh: One of the few memorable moments of Ville Leino’s time in Buffalo was a quote about the arena atmosphere: “Married couples fighting upstairs, you can hear that on the ice.” That was true during the first period, which featured just 11 shots on goal as Chicago built a 6-5 edge.
More action: After the sluggish first period, the teams turned up the juice in the second. Buffalo outshot Chicago, 14-9, as both goalies made good saves. Tyler Ennis forced Crawford to glove a power-play blast from the slot, and the goalie got his pad on a Rasmus Ristolainen slap shot.
Ennis returns: As expected, Ennis returned after missing the previous 12 games with an upper-body injury. He skated as the right winger for Evander Kane and center Jack Eichel. Marcus Foligno missed his third straight game with an upper-body injury. Carlo Colaiacovo was a healthy scratch on defense for the sixth game in a row.
Milestone: Sabres left wing Jamie McGinn played in the 400th game of his career.
Counting the house: An influx of red Chicago jerseys couldn’t propel the Sabres to a sellout. Buffalo announced a crowd of 18,870, leaving the Sabres with two packed houses in their 19 home games.
Up next: The Sabres will get a week off to relax. They don’t play again until they visit the Boston Bruins on Saturday. They won’t practice, either, with Bylsma giving them Monday and Tuesday off ahead of the NHL’s three-day Christmas break.