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Sabres Notebook: Big bounceback for Berglund

Patrik Berglund has been a man on the move this season. He finally seems to be finding a comfort zone with the Sabres.

From second-line center to healthy scratch to fourth-line winger, Berglund has bounced around the first 10 games. But his season seemed to hit an early crossroads when coach Phil Housley sent him to the press box for last week's loss in San Jose.

The Sabres are 3-0 since Berglund returned as a member of a strong fourth line with Johan Larsson and Zemgus Girgensons. They'll be together again Saturday night in Columbus.

"We're three guys that have similar styles of hockey," Berglund said Friday. "It's very easy to read off. When we play that 'north' game, go forecheck and win the puck back, it's not very fancy. But at the same time, when you do it right it's very effective."

Berglund's only goal this season was the empty-netter to clinch Sunday's win in Anaheim. But he had five shots on goal in Thursday's win over Montreal and was again active on the boards.

Berglund initially started the season as Buffalo's second-line center but prefers to play wing, where he spent all of last season with the St. Louis Blues. Housley sat him down after a dropped coverage on a penalty kill created the opening goal in the Oct. 16 loss at Vegas.

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"It's something I really don't want to talk about because it's in the past," Berglund said. "But obviously I wasn't happy about it. I'll move on from that."

In the two games before he was scratched, Berglund was just a 25 percent Corsi player at 5 on 5, with the Sabres taking only eight shot attempts while he was on the ice and giving up 24. In the three games since he returned, he's at 62 percent and he was at 75 percent Thursday (15 of 20).

"You always like to see a response," Housley said. "You never want to sit guys out but in the position we were in, we had to make some tough decisions. I love the way he's come back and that line as a group has been really outstanding for us. You can really rely on them."

Berglund seemed to have a similar bounceback last year in St. Louis after spending a game in the press box, producing nine goals and 12 points in his final 17 games after sitting out a February game against Detroit.

"'Bergy' is a skilled big guy who can hold on to the puck," Girgensons said. "We work together pretty well, have pretty good chemistry going on. This line is pretty heavy, pretty physical. It's a good element to bring to the team with our size and intensity."

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Jack Eichel, Conor Sheary and Sam Reinhart all sat out practice Friday in HarborCenter but Housley said all three were just taking maintenance days and would play Saturday night.

Reinhart scored his first goal of the season to tie the game in the third period and appeared to take a shot to the midsection, perhaps to the ribs, just as he put the puck in the net. He did finish the game.

Eichel had three goals in the first three games of the season but has no goals and five assists in the last seven games, one game shy of his career-high drought set last year. Sheary had three goals in the first five games but has none in the last five.

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Defenseman Zach Bogosian said his protests over Paul Byron's second-period wraparound goal Thursday centered on the fact officials didn't blow the puck dead when goalie Carter Hutton had pinned it against the side of the net.

"They said it wasn't covered. I was at an angle I couldn't see," Bogosian said. "I thought it was covered but those guys have a tough job. I'd feel maybe a little different today if we didn't come out with the outcome we did."

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It appeared Bogosian and defense partner Marco Scandella slowed up on the play expecting an icing call but the linesmen ruled Montreal center Jesperi Kotkaniemi won the race to the faceoff dot to keep the play alive.

"You play possum. It's all part of the game," Housley said. "You look like you're skating really fast but you want to get the icing. It's all part of the game but in that situation I thought we could have come back harder."

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Columbus (5-4) is coming off Thursday's 7-4 win at St. Louis, a game that saw the Blue Jackets come back from an early 2-0 deficit.

The Blue Jackets have struggled in goal, where incumbent Sergei Bobrovsky is just 2-4 with a 3.87 goals-against average and .872 save percentage. Backup Joonas Korpisalo is 3-0 but only at 3.30/.898. Columbus has given up a whopping 27 goals over the last six games but managed to go 3-3.

Standout defenseman Seth Jones has played two games in an early return from the knee sprain he suffered against the Sabres Sept. 25 in the Hockeyville exhibition he suffered in Clinton. He was originally slated to be out 4-6 weeks but immediately jumped back into the lineup to play 27 minutes, 24 seconds in Tuesday's 4-1 loss to Arizona and played 22:38 on Thursday.

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