Three-goal second period lifts Columbus over Buffalo, 5-1
By NICOLE KRAFT, Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — All it took was a little rest for the Columbus Blue Jackets to get back to their winning ways.
Seth Jones had a goal and an assist for Columbus to help the Blue Jackets, who had a three-day break between games, beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-1 on Wednesday night.
Serge Bobrovsky stopped 34 of 35 shots to lead Columbus (6-3-0) to its fifth win in its last seven games. Buffalo dropped to 3-6-2 in front of goalie Chad Johnson, who stopped 33 of 38 shots.
The Jackets power play had been an anemic 2-for-20, but got a goal at 12:00 of the first period after Zach Redmond’s hooking call. Oliver Bjorkstrand whipped his second goal of the season past Johnson off an around-the-horn pass from Jones to Sonny Milano, and a picture perfect screen by Boone Jenner.
The game soon became a “slop fest,” in the words of Columbus coach John Tortorella, with neither team overly effective on offense. The momentum, however, shifted Columbus’ way at 15:20 of the second period when quick puck movement on a rush by Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson set up a trailing Jones, who scored his second goal of the season.
“The way we played the first wasn’t great,” Jones said. “We wanted to come make a statement in the second and play a completely different period. And I think we did a good job of that. It’s obviously nice when the pucks going in the net, but it starts with the way we play defense — the way we closed gaps and the way our forwards tracked back — our transition game is a whole other level when that happens.”
The Jackets struck again at 17:38 when Jack Jackson’s shot bounced off Chad Johnson, right toward a driving Nick Foligno, who dribbled it into the net. It was the third goal of the season for Foligno, who was moved up this game to center the first line, and it paid off.
“Someone told me a goal in the NHL, no matter how ugly it is, is a nice goal,” said Foligno with a chuckle. “… After two losses to come back and get a big win like that, I was really proud of the guys.”
The Jackets scored again 41 seconds later when Matt Calvert buried a rebound on a big shot from the point by Markus Nutivaara, for his second goal of the season. Ryan Murray also earned an assist.
“Good teams, they don’t beat themselves,” said Buffalo head coach Phil Housley. “They don’t crack. Even being down one we were still playing well. We shouldn’t get away from our game plan. Because of it, we get a little cheat in our game, and it winds up in our net.”
Buffalo finally got on the board at 17:26 of the third period when Seth Griffith beat Bobrovsky from the point for his first goal of the season, assisted by Jordan Nolan and Johan Larsson.
But the Jackets still were not done, as Josh Anderson scored his second goal of the season with just 40 seconds left in the game, assisted by Artemi Panarin, his team-leading ninth of the season, and Alexander Wennberg.
“We always talk about momentum in surges, how you handle them when they come against you and when you’re on your side,” Tortorella said. “It’s a big part of winning and losing in the National Hockey League.”
Notes: Columbus has now scored at least four goals in its last five games. The Jackets were without Lukas Sedlak who suffered an ankle injury during practice Monday. Buffalo was finishing its third back-to-back series of the young season with 16 more to go. Wennberg’s assist was the 100th of his NHL career.
Sabres: head home to face San Jose on Saturday
Blue Jackets: host Winnipeg on Friday.