For once, the Buffalo Sabres made it interesting. It took them nearly 50 minutes to do it, but they made it interesting nonetheless.
They still lost.
Buffalo's winless skid reached six games Monday night with a 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Sabres are 0-4-2 in the last six and fell to 5-12-4 this season.
After pulling within a goal with 3:32 remaining, the Sabres buzzed the Blue Jackets' zone. They had a power play for the final 1:55, but they couldn't net the tying goal.
It was pulse-quickening action, especially considering the sleepers lately.
Busy third period: After fans saw just one goal through two periods, they witnessed three in the opening 10 minutes of the final period. The first two belonged to the Blue Jackets as they opened a 3-0 lead.
On the board: The Sabres finally beat goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky with 10:23 to go, just 13 seconds after Columbus made it 3-0. Defenseman Victor Antipin took a high shot from the right point, and Sam Reinhart tipped it home while screening Bobrovsky.
Reinhart's goal was his fourth of the season, including his second in four games.
Kane again: Sabres sniper Evander Kane gave the remaining fans a lift with 3:32 remaining, cutting the deficit to 3-2. The winger scored from the left circle for his 12th goal in 21 games this season.
Kane has six goals and nine points in the last 10 games.
To the video: With the Sabres on the power play with 1:46 to, the officials needed video help to see if Buffalo made it 3-3. They said no to the fans' dismay.
Bobrovsky made a huge pad save on Ryan O'Reilly, and players from both teams dived into the crease for the loose puck. It eventually inched toward the goal line, but no camera angles showed it crossing.
Feeding time: Columbus' Artemi Panarin, known as the "Bread Man," earned his dough with 14:13 remaining. The forward caught the puck at the Buffalo blue line and danced past defenseman Justin Falk.
Once Panarin got alone in the right circle, he unleashed a shot that hit the far post and caromed in off the near post to make it 2-0.
Cyclists: The Blue Jackets made it 3-0 with 10:36 to play, pinning the Sabres in their zone. Brandon Dubinsky eventually circled behind the net and came out front. The puck ended up sitting at the top of the crease, and Boone Jenner beat everyone to it.
Hit and a goal: The Blue Jackets scored the only goal of the opening two periods, and they got help from the Sabres to do it. As Oliver Bjorkstrand crossed in front of the Sabres' net, Falk shoved him into Robin Lehner. The goaltender went down, and Bjorkstrand went behind the net to get the puck.
He fed Pierre-Luc Dubois in front for an easy goal with 4:14 gone in the second period.
Almost a shortie: The Sabres were sieves on the power play early in the season, but they hadn't allowed a short-handed goal since Oct. 20. The run nearly ended.
With the Sabres on the power play late in the second period, defenseman Marco Scandella looked for Jack Eichel. Instead, he put the puck on the stick of Cam Atkinson for a breakaway. The Blue Jackets forward rang the post with 3:45 to go, allowing the Sabres to enter intermission in just the 1-0 hole.
There was a smattering of boos as the Sabres departed down, 24-17, in shots.
Scoreless first: Chances were at a premium during the opening 20 minutes, which ended with Columbus holding a 12-7 shot advantage. The Blue Jackets had a run of seven straight shots midway through the period.
Neither goalie needed to make any special saves.
To the box: The NHL's focus on faceoff violations continued when the officials sent Jack Eichel to the penalty box with 4:47 left in the first. He was warned after one false start and penalized for moving too quickly when the linesman didn't drop the puck.
Buffalo killed the penalty, improving to 26 for 26 at home this season.
New look: The Sabres changed their offensive lines. Ryan O'Reilly skated between Evander Kane and Sam Reinhart. Johan Larsson was in the middle of Benoit Pouliot and Kyle Okposo. Jack Eichel centered for Zemgus Girgensons and Jason Pominville. Kyle Criscuolo was between Jordan Nolan and Seth Griffith.
Matt Moulson was a healthy scratch for the third straight game.
New jersey: The Sabres will give a sneak peak of their Winter Classic jersey on their My One Buffalo app as soon as Tuesday. Buffalo will play outdoors against the New York Rangers on Jan. 1 in Citi Field, the New York Mets' baseball stadium, and both teams will wear special jerseys. The logos have previously been revealed, though the jersey – expected to be royal blue – has not.
The familiar Sabres logo has a small "NY" between the handles of the crossed swords. A yellow charging buffalo has "Sabres" written in all capitals in an antiquated font, contributing to the throwback look associated with the NHL's outdoor games.
Next: The Sabres will complete their four-game homestand with games sandwiching Thanksgiving. Marcus Foligno, Tyler Ennis and the Minnesota Wild come to town Wednesday. Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers visit Friday.