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Sabres Keep On Truckin'

Just when it seemed the Chicago Blackhawks couldn't possibly add to their misery, they ran into the hottest team in the league.

The struggling Blackhawks

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  • dragged an eight-game winless streak into Marine Midland Arena and crawled out with a 6-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.

    Michal Grosek scored twice as the Sabres extended their league-best unbeaten streak to eight games. Brian Holzinger, Alexei Zhitnik, Geoff Sanderson and Miroslav Satan also scored for Buffalo (7-3-4), which has won five of its last eight with three ties.

    "We could have took the attitude that we're going to cakewalk this one tonight and we kind of talked about it that it was going to be a tough game out there," said Sabres wing Rob Ray.

    It was the most lopsided game of the season for the Sabres, who matched their season high of goals.

    "We knew we would have to live with this game for six days," said Sanderson, whose team hosts Toronto on Friday.

    The Blackhawks, who have gone nine straight games without a win (0-8-1), managed just 15 shots through two periods on Buffalo goalie Dominik Hasek. Tony Amonte scored the lone goal for Chicago in the second period.

    "There's no magic formula," Chicago coach Dirk Graham said. "We keep these guys' noses to the grindstone. When you get into tough times, you work that much harder."

    "Confidence is fragile," said Amonte, whose score gave him a league-high 11 goals. "A win is going to do a lot for this team. I would give all 11 goals back for 11 wins."

    "You have to be humble," said Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff, who gave the Sabres an extra day off because they won. "Someday we'll be in that situation."

    Hasek, who appeared in 25 ame for Chicago from 1990 to 1992, had started and finished every game this season. He was given a needed rest when Dwayne Roloson came on for the third period.

    The Blackhawks missed the playoffs for the first time in 29 years last season, and through 16 games this season have more losses than any team in the NHL (4-10-2).

    Chicago was coming off a 10-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, which marked the first time in a decade it had given up 10 goals in a game.

    Blackhawks forward Reid Simpson began the first of a two-game suspension Saturday for hitting a fan with a plastic water bottle during the home loss to Toronto.

    Sabres forward Matthew Barnaby was serving the last of a four-game suspension for delivering an elbow to the head of Boston's P.J. Axelsson.

    Chicago fell behind 2-0 in the first period, extending yet another string of futility. The Blackhawks have trailed after one period in 15 of their 16 games while being outscored 24-7 in that segment. They also have allowed at least one goal in each of the last 11 periods.

    Holzinger picked up an errant Chicago clearing pass and whipped the wrist shot in from the circle to Andrei Trefilov's left for the game's first goal with 2:35 left in the first period.

    Moments later the Sabres added their second goal just seconds after Blackhawks defenseman Jamie Allison went to the box for high sticking. Zhitnik was stationed at the right point when he pounded in Grosek's pass from the opposite corner. The puck trickled in off Trefilov's pad.

    Grosek's wrist shot over Trefilov's glove and a blast by Sanderson in the second period gave the Sabres a 4-0 lead and chased Trefilov in favor of Mark Fitzpatrick. Amonte cut Chicago's deficit to three, but Grosek made it 5-1 with his second score of the game.

    "We just have to keep it up," said Grosek, who added that Lindy Ruff gave him extra shifts in the third period so he could get the hat trick. "But I was too tired," Grosek said.

    Chicago, the league's most penalized team going into the game, couldn't even win the fights. In the first period Buffalo's Paul Kruse pummeled Remi Royer, and Sabres defenseman Rumun Ndur drew cheers when he knocked Dennis Bonvie's helmet off and fell on the Chicago player. Sabres enforcer Ray bloodied and decked Bonvie in the second period.

    © 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved

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