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(AP) — The defending champion Chicago Blackhawks are at risk of matching their longest losing streak from all of last season just three games into this one.
Two days after raising their Stanley Cup banner, the Blackhawks look to avoid their third loss in as many games Monday night when they travel to face the Buffalo Sabres.
Chicago (0-1-1) fell to Detroit 3-2 on Saturday night after an emotional pregame ceremony celebrating its championship, and a second straight lackluster performance to open the season left the team disappointed.
“It’s always measured by wins and losses, so we’re not happy right now,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “There’s areas we can be better and some guys across the board that we need more.”
Brian Bickell and Brent Seabrook each scored for the Blackhawks, but free agent acquisition Marty Turco admitted to a ‘mistake’ after allowing a slow shot to slip between his pads for a third-period goal that turned into the game-winner.
Turco, who gave up four goals in a season-opening loss to Colorado, knows he needs to improve his play if Chicago is going to make another postseason run.
“Ya, of course, you go home and lay in bed and think about it and replay stuff and the idea is just to get better,” he said. “But I’ve played long enough and am in this position to put it behind you pretty quick cause every time you let things eat at you it’s going to hurt your focus.”
Chicago has scored three power-play goals but also has given up one in each of its two games after ranking fourth in the league on the penalty kill last season.
Forward Patrick Sharp was held out against the Red Wings with an apparent upper-body injury suffered during the season opener. It’s unclear if Sharp, who tied for second on the team with 25 goals last season, will be able to play against Buffalo.
Chicago’s Patrick Kane will play his third career game in his hometown. He has one goal and one assist in two visits to Buffalo, both losses.
The Sabres (1-1-0) are coming off a rough game of their own in which reigning Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller allowed five goals.
Buffalo fell to the New York Rangers 6-3 on Saturday night in its home opener, and will likely need to come out with a better effort against a hungry Chicago team.
“We have some stuff to clean up,” Miller said. “Unfortunately, everything that could have gone wrong pretty much went wrong. … We’ll take it as a learning opportunity. There’s 80 (games) left.”
Two of those games will come against the Blackhawks, whom Miller has never lost to, limiting them to one goal both times he faced them in 2007. He didn’t play in the only meeting between these teams last season as Buffalo won 2-1 at home Dec. 11.
Sabres defenseman Jordan Leopold scored two goals Saturday and Derek Roy added one for his third of the season.
Chicago knows that after winning the Stanley Cup it is going to get the opposing team’s best effort, something Quenneville’s squad needs to get used to.
“Certainly you’re going to be challenged,” he said. “You’re going to be more targeted than you were in the past. So we have to be ready ourselves.”
The Blackhawks have lost four of the last five meetings with the Sabres and haven’t won in Buffalo since Dec. 19, 2001.
By Noey Kupchan, STATS Writer
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