CHICAGO -- Gustav Forsling's screened shot with 4.9 seconds left in overtime eluded Robin Lehner to give the Chicago Blackhawks a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres Friday night in a heartbreaker at United Center.
Forsling's shot was low to the ice and Lehner never saw it as Rasmus Ristolainen was directly in front of him.
The goal came on Chicago's 51st shot of the night as the Hawks outshot Buffalo, 51-28, and outattempted them, 95-39. Lehner made 48 saves but it wasn't enough.
The Sabres had a huge chance in overtime as Jack Eichel had a penalty shot with 3:29 left after he was pulled down by Forsling but his shot was stopped by Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford.
And the Sabres were less than 3 1/2 minutes away from stealing the game in regulation until Tommy Wingels scored a short-handed goal to get Chicago even at 2-2 with 3:22 to play. Wingels slid through the slot to deflect home a shot by Gustav Forsling after the Sabres had spent several seconds fumbling the puck around in their own zone, instead of pushing for the clinching tally.
The Sabres were then fortunate to get to overtime as Patrick Sharp hit the post on a backhand rebound with 20 seconds left, facing a wide-open net.
Lehner stopped 35 of 37 shots in Tuesday's 4-2 win in Colorado and was more than up to the task again here Friday -- in what was his first career appearance in United Center against the Hawks. He had lost his previous two career appearances against Chicago, one with Ottawa and the other in February in Buffalo.
The Sabres are 0-10-2 in their last 12 games against the Blackhawks -- including 0-6-1 in their last six on the road. Buffalo's last win over Chicago was on home ice, a 2-1 victory on Dec. 11, 2009. The Sabres had not won here since also posting a 2-1 triumph on Jan. 10, 2007, more than five months before Chicago drafted South Buffalo native Patrick Kane with the No. 1 overall pick.
Back in the net: Looking to snap their losing streak, the Blackhawks reinserted starter Crawford in goal after he had missed the last three games with a lower body injury. Crawford came off injured reserve and was expected to start here Sunday against Arizona. But he skated on his own Thursday and looked fine during the morning skate so he was given the nod.
Prior to the game, coach Joel Quenneville was asked point-blank if the Hawks' situation in the standings accelerated their timetable with Crawford.
"It's a good question. I'm not sure," Quenneville admitted. "But if he's ready to play and passes all clearances, it's up to us."
Crawford, a two-time Stanley Cup champion, came into the game 8-0 lifetime against the Sabres with a 1.86 GAA and .929 save percentage.
Praise Be -- A power play goal: The Sabres opened the scoring on Jason Pominville's nifty deflection of a Jack Eichel pass with 17.4 seconds left in the first period. It came 15 1/2 seconds after Chicago's Tommy Wingels was sent off for holding and broke the Sabres' 0-for-30 slump on the power play that dated to Nov. 14 in Pittsburgh -- 11 games ago.
Hawks get similar relief: Chicago's power play was in a 1-for-21 slide in its last five and that dropped to 1 for 23 before it finally connected on Alex DeBrincat's goal at 8:30 of the second period that got the game even at 1-1. It was a screened shot from the left circle for the rookie's 12th goal of the season, tying Artem Anisimov for team-high honors.
Quick bounceback: Just as they did Tuesday in Denver, the Sabres regained the lead within three minutes after being tied. Kyle Okposo did the honors at the 11-minute mark with a quick snapshot to the top corner off a Scott Wilson pass. It was Okposo's fourth goal of the season and first against a goaltender since Nov. 10 against Florida. His last goal was an empty netter Nov. 24 against Edmonton.
By a toenail: Lehner preserved the lead with a spectacular save off a Richard Panik one-timer with 17 seconds left in the second period. Lunging to his left, the 6-foot-4 Buffalo goal got his left toe on the slap shot to keep Buffalo in front, 2-1, through 40 minutes.
Weird to be ahead: The Sabres' lead after one period was just their eighth of the season in 29 games. They had not lead after 20 minutes in any of their previous 10 games, dating to the Nov. 14 loss at Pittsburgh. They led, 2-1, after the first period of that game, a 5-4 overtime loss.
In the house: The red-clad crowd of 21,542 was the Blackhawks' 430th consecutive sellout (366 in the regular season and 64 in the playoffs).
Up next: The Sabres flew to St. Louis immediately after the game and will play the Central Division-leading Blues there Sunday night in Scottrade Center. The team will practice Saturday at the Blues' facility at an outlet mall in suburban Hazelwood.