On Tuesday, Chicago's Theo Fleury was suspended for violating terms of the NHL's substance abuse aftercare program. Two nights later, the Blackhawks opened the season with a 2-1 loss at Columbus.
Things were much better in the home opener at the United Center, where Chicago needed just 86 seconds to take the lead on defenseman Jon Klemm's first goal in 30 games since Jan. 25.
Rookie Tyler Arnason and Alex Zhamonov also scored for the Blackhawks, who shared the best home record in the NHL last season.
The Sabres were coming off impressive victories over the New York Islanders and Montreal to open the season but generated little offense and fell short of the third 3-0 start in team history.