Blue Jackets top Sabres 3-2 for 4th straight win
By JONAH BRONSTIEN, Associated Press
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The Columbus Blue Jackets keep finding ways to win close games.
Sergei Bobrovsky made three of his 30 saves on a power play in the final two minutes, and the Blue Jackets beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Monday night for their fourth straight victory.
Rookie Pierre-Luc Dubois, Artemi Panarin and Boone Jenner scored for the Blue Jackets. Markus Nutivaara had two assists.
Columbus had a 1-0 lead entering the third period in each of its last four victories. The Sabres made a late push, but the Blue Jackets held on.
“It doesn’t matter how you finish,” Bobrovsky said. “The most important part is the end result and we got two points.”
Bobrovsky made his biggest save when he slid across the crease to kick away a Ryan O’Reilly one-timer with 1:49 remaining. Bobrovsky got a piece of Kyle Okposo’s shot off the rebound and the puck trickled across the goal line while Okposo fell into the net.
Officials blew the whistle before the puck crossed the line, and the decision remained in place after a video review.
“That’s no goal,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. “And if they call it a goal, it’s goalie interference.”
Buffalo dropped its sixth straight game. Evander Kane and Sam Reinhart scored for the Sabres, and Robin Lehner stopped 25 shots.
Sabres coach Phil Housley shuffled his lines, putting star center Jack Eichel with third-line wings Jason Pominville and Zemgus Girgensons and sending the group out for the second shift.
Housley downplayed the switch, saying it was not a demotion for Eichel, who had one point in the previous 11 games. Eichel led the Sabres with five shots on goal and assisted on Kane’s goal. He was on the ice for 20:54, up from his 20:37 average that leads Sabres forwards.
“Jack was very determined tonight and you could see it,” Housley said. “I really liked the speed that Jack brought tonight.”
The Blue Jackets scored first for the fifth straight game when Dubois collected a loose puck in the slot and lifted a wrist shot over Lehner four minutes into the second period. Oliver Bjorkstrand set up Dubois’ third goal of the season with a pass from behind the net.
Panarin scored his fifth on a high wrist shot from the right circle 5:47 into the third. Jenner added his third goal of the year on a play in front of the net midway through the period.
Buffalo battled back in the final 11 minutes.
“I am not going to pick apart the team,” Tortorella said. “It’s just a natural thing that happens when you get up three goals, you just give a little bit. Quite honestly, when you end up winning the game, I think it’s good the team goes through it.”
Reinhart scored 13 seconds after Jenner’s goal, deflecting in Victor Antipin’s shot from the point to end a 117-minute shutout streak for Bobrovsky. Kane scored his 12th of the season on a wrist shot from the left circle with 3:32 remaining.
“I know we’re capable of playing like that,” Kane said. “It’s a mindset. It’s an attitude. . We score two goals tonight but we didn’t get our first goal until the 10-minute mark of the third period. So we’re not creating enough offensively.”
NOTES: Blue Jackets D David Savard returned to the lineup after he was a healthy scratch in Friday’s win over the New York Rangers. … Blue Jackets C Lukas Sedlak is close to returning. Sedlak has missed 13 games with a high-ankle sprain. … The Sabres have not allowed a goal on 26 opponent power plays at home this season. … Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno has gone 12 games without a point, tying for the second-longest streak of the forward’s career. His last point came when he scored in a win over Buffalo on Oct. 25. … The Blue Jackets are 10-1 when allowing two goals or less.
Blue Jackets: Host Calgary on Wednesday night.
Sabres: Host Minnesota on Wednesday night.