COLUMBUS, Ohio – It was a nice little win streak while it lasted for the Buffalo Sabres. It came crashing down in a 5-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in Nationwide Arena Wednesday night.
The loss ended a two-game win streak for the Sabres while the win ended a two-game losing skid for the Blue Jackets.
The major damage was done in a span of 2:59 late in the second period when the Blue Jackets pounced in front of the Sabres net for three goals.
It was only the second loss for Chad Johnson to the Blue Jackets. The Sabres back-up goalie entered the game with a 5-1-0 record against Columbus and a 1.81 goals against average in those six games.
Meanwhile, the Sabres couldn't solve Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who is now 9-3-1 all-time against Buffalo. It wasn't until 2:34 left in the game when Seth Griffith scored his first of the season to break up the shutout bid.
No goal: Columbus had an impressive shift early in the game with great passing and pressure in the offensive zone. It ended with a bullet shot from Cam Atkinson at 3:58 of the first, but the goal was immediately waived off. The net was wide open, you see, because Nick Foligno threw a hip check on Sabres goalie Chad Johnson, preventing him from moving across the crease to play the puck.
Close call: The Blue Jackets nearly scored with 12:03 left in the first when a shot from Atkinson beat Johnson, but rang off the post above his glove, then hit the cross bar and jumped back into play.
Third time's the charm: Columbus finally cashed in, for real, with eight minutes left in the first. With Zach Redmond off for hooking, Oliver Bjorkstrand blew a shot past a screened Johnson for a 1-0 Blue Jackets lead.
Stuffed: Ryan O'Reilly had a breakaway with about 12:40 left in the second period. He was all alone, had two teammates trailing him, but was at the end of a shift, could not get much speed heading toward the goal, and Sergei Bobrovsky made the pad save to keep the Blue Jackets lead at 1-0.
Adding to the lead: The Blue Jackets took a 2-0 lead with 4:27 left in the second period. A strong, speedy rush set up the play along with a bit of pretty passing. Atkinson and Brandon Dubinsky set up Seth Jones, who rocketed the puck past another screen in front of Johnson.
And the flood gates opened: That goal from Jones started a three-goal barrage in the final 4:37 of the second period as Columbus scored three goals in just under three minutes. Nick Foligno crashed the net and was in the right place at the right time as a rebound from a Jack Johnson shot went off his skate. Then with 1:41 left, Johnson made a save, but the puck moved just through his legs. Matt Calvert got behind Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe to tap the puck into the net.
Review: The goal by Foligno underwent a review and officials confirmed that the puck deflected off his skate and entered the net in a legal fashion. Citing Rule 49.2 "A puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player's skate who does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal."
Sabres debut: Defenseman Zach Redmond played his first game in a Buffalo uniform, stepping in for Taylor Fedun who was a healthy scratch. Redmond has 130 NHL games on his resume, 96 of those coming with the Colorado Avalanche from 2014 to 2016. Redmond was acquired by the Sabres as part of the trade that sent Nicolas Deslauriers to Montreal on Oct. 4.
Scratches: Along with Fedun, forward Matt Moulson was a healthy scratch as Zemgus Girgensons returned to the lineup from a lower body injury. Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu was also a scratch, missing his third game with an upper body injury.
The injured reserve list remains long for the Sabres including Justin Falk (undisclosed), Evan Rodrigues (hand), Zach Bogosian (lower body), Jacob Josefson (lower body) and Josh Gorges (lower body).
Up next: The Sabres return to Buffalo to host the San Jose Sharks at 1 p.m. on Saturday. That happens to be Jack Eichel's 21st birthday. The Sabres then play two on the road, playing at Arizona Nov. 2 and at Dallas Nov. 4.