With plenty of fresh faces on the ice for both teams, the advantage of having already played a preseason game paid big dividends for the Buffalo Sabres.
Tim Connolly, Milan Bartovic and Michael Ryan scored goals to lead the Sabres to a 3-2 win over Columbus on Sunday night.
The Sabres, who beat Washington by the same score in their preseason opener Saturday, dominated the first two periods.
"I think you get a little disappointed when you have a 3-0 lead and you let them get a couple back," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "Overall, I liked the performance of some of the guys we've had down in Rochester and our veterans played well too."
"We scored three strong goals and played well for most of the game," said Ryan. "It was the kind of effort we can grow on."
Ryan Miller had a shutout until midway through the third period. Blue Jackets defenseman Duvie Westcott scored on a wrist shot from the top of the right circle to cut the lead to 3-1. Greg Mauldin then made it 3-2 when he scored in a scrum with just under 5 minutes remaining in Columbus' preseason opener.
Miller, who finished with 41 saves, stopped Columbus on a power play and a breakaway in the final minutes.
"They kind of picked it up at the end," said Sabres forward Chris Drury, who assisted on Connolly's goal. "It seemed like they kind of found their legs. But we hung in there."
On the third of Buffalo's four power-play chances in the opening period, Connolly redirected a hard shot from the right wing by Drury for a 1-0 lead. The goal came soon after Columbus had weathered two 5-on-3s.
With 7 seconds left in the first period, Bartovic cleaned up a rebound after Columbus goaltender Martin Prusek stopped Maxim Afinogenov's shot from close range.
"The first period I think we got a little bit overwhelmed, playing with new players out there," Columbus winger Geoff Sanderson said.
Ryan then made it 3-0 by beating Andrew Penner in the second period, shortly after Penner replaced Prusek.
The Blue Jackets are without their top player, Rick Nash, who is sidelined with an ankle sprain. Nash, who signed a 5-year, $27-million contract this summer, is expected to miss another week or two.
The game was played before a crowd of 15,374.
"It was exciting. It's been a long time coming for everybody: the players, the fans, arena workers, the vendors -- the whole nine yards," Columbus' Tyler Wright said. "That was a warm welcome."
Bondra signs contract
ATLANTA -- Unrestricted free agent Peter Bondra signed a one-year contract with the Atlanta Thrashers. The deal was thought to include a base salary of around $500,000 and he could earn another $2.9 million.
Bondra has been working out with the team but did not go to Montreal as the Thrashers lost to the Canadiens, 3-2, in front of 16,893 fans Sunday.