The Sabres always talk about needing to play 60 minutes. They got away with 40.
After an abysmal start Saturday night, the Sabres scored five unanswered goals to shock Columbus, 5-3, in KeyBank Center. The Blue Jackets easily opened a 3-0 lead, but Buffalo rallied almost out of nowhere.
The Sabres ended a three-game losing streak and improved to 2-6-2 in the last 10 games. Buffalo ended Columbus' three-game winning streak and dropped the visitors to 8-3-1 in the last 11.
No show: The Sabres did almost nothing for the opening 20 minutes, and it showed on the scoreboard and in the fans’ voices. The crowd gave a mock cheer for the “one minute remaining” announcement, and it booed lustily when the Sabres skated to the dressing room in a 3-0 hole. Columbus outshot the Sabres, 12-6.
Welcome to the game: The Sabres decided to show up for the second period, and it showed on the scoreboard and in the fans’ voices. Buffalo scored three times to tie the game, and the fans cheered the players’ delayed departure after a post-period scrum.
The winner: The Sabres' three most potent weapons, Jack Eichel, Evander Kane and the power play, connected with 2:29 to go. Eichel spun away from a defender and hit Kane with a cross-ice pass for the winger's 25th goal.
Eichel sealed it with 3.5 seconds left, firing into an open net for his 19th goal.
Switch them up: After Anders Nilsson stopped nine of 12 shots during the first, coach Dan Bylsma sent Robin Lehner to the crease for the second. Lehner made three big stops in a row midway through the period to keep the score 3-2. He finished the second with 13 saves as Columbus outshot Buffalo, 13-11.
Lehner finished with 24 stops, including a game-saver on Columbus leading scorer Cam Atkinson with 33.4 seconds left.
Read the book: The word is apparently out on the Sabres’ goaltenders – shoot high from the circles. The trend continued on the opening goal as defenseman David Savard fired one over Nilsson’s shoulder as the goalie went down with 7:09 off the clock.
Inside out: Nick Foligno’s individual effort gave Columbus a 2-0 lead. The captain spun Jake McCabe and stepped around the defenseman to get a high, close-range goal with six minutes to go in the first.
Although a television timeout was coming at the next whistle, Bylsma had seen enough and couldn’t wait. He called timeout for a quick talk with the team at the bench.
Triple: Scott Hartnell took down McCabe in the corner, allowing Sam Gagner to feed Oliver Bjorkstrand for an empty-netter on a two-on-one. It was 3-0 with 2:04 left in the first.
Life: The Sabres finally showed a pulse on the opening shift of the second period, and they made it 3-1 with 18 seconds gone. Nicolas Deslauriers, getting a spot shift on the line with Ryan O’Reilly and Evander Kane, carried the puck behind the net and fed McCabe at the top of the circle. The defenseman shot just inside the post for his third goal.
After no points in his opening 34 games, Deslauriers has two in two nights.
Power: Buffalo’s power play made it 3-2 with 5:43 gone. After getting the rebound of Zach Bogosian’s shot, Matt Moulson buried his own. It was Moulson’s first goal in 12 games and his 10th of the season on the power play. The only time he’s had more was when he potted 14 in 2011-12.
Tied up: With the fans yelling “shoot” as the seconds ticked down, Sam Reinhart listened. He slipped a low shot between the pads of Joonas Korpisalo with only 2.9 seconds left. It was Reinhart's 16th goal.
Rough stuff: The sides combined for eight roughing penalties and three 10-minute misconducts during the second period. After the buzzer, Scott Hartnell got into scrums with Deslauriers and Bogosian.
Ouch: Columbus lost defenseman Ryan Murray less than four minutes into the game after a taking a shot off his right hand or wrist. Atkinson missed the final 10:39 of the second period after his shoulder got stepped on during a scrum. He returned for the third period.
Bloodied Buffalo defenseman Cody Franson went to the dressing room with 14:21 to play after taking a shot to the face.
Counting the house: The Sabres announced a crowd of 18,744, with a good portion staying in their seats during the second period as the team showed its documentary on the Sabres-Senators brawl from 2007.
Next: After taking Sunday off, the Sabres will fly to California for a three-game trip. They will start Tuesday in San Jose, visit Los Angeles on Thursday and head down the freeway to take on Anaheim on Friday.