The Columbus Blue Jackets hosted the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night during game three of their four game homestand. The team lost the previous two games, to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Los Angeles Kings, but would have a chance to get things right against a Sabres team that had stumbled out of the gates to open the season. The Fox Sports crew would have the night off as this game was played on NBC Sports Wednesday Night Rivalry Night for some reason.
With the news that Lukas Sedlak would be out a minimum of six weeks after suffering an ankle injury in practice earlier this week, the lineup was shuffled. In an attempt to motivate Alexander Wennberg to perform better on the defensive end, Torts moved Nick Foligno to the first line between Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson while Wennberg played between Pierre-Luc Dubois and Oliver Bjorkstrand. Zac Dalpe took Sedlak’s spot between Matt Calvert and Sonny Milano on the fourth line. The third line, meanwhile, featured Boone Jenner lining up with Brandon Dubinsky and Josh Anderson, the heaviest hitting line we’ve seen yet this season.
The CBJ starters were Brandon Dubinsky, Boone Jenner, Josh Anderson, Jack Johnson, David Savard, and Sergei Bobrovsky.
FIRST PERIOD RECAP
I love hearing Doc Emrick talk about hockey. This is just the best and the game hasn’t even started yet. This is the first time I can remember that I’ve listened to him call a Blue Jackets game, and it’s already the best. Meanwhile, Pierre McGuire just asked Cam Atkinson about his contract situation 90 seconds before the opening faceoff. Can we send Pierre to Pluto or something?
The first shot on goal of the game came from a Seth Jones wrister at the faceoff dot 65 seconds into the game. Buffalo got their first shot on goal shortly after as Bobrovsky made a glove save 75 seconds in.
Of note (probably not a big deal, though): Jack Johnson was wearing the A tonight instead of Brandon Dubinsky.
Buffalo had several chances, but none could actually find their way on net.
7 whistles in the first 2:45. Choppy start to the game.
A goal! Nope. Waived off. An excellent shift from the first line saw Cam Atkinson bury the puck behind Buffalo netminder Chad Johnson, but Nick Foligno bumped into Johnson and the goal was waived off. It was probably the right call, but I don’t have to like it. Regardless, that was a great shift where the first line absolutely bossed the Sabres around in the offensive zone. More of that please.
Zach Redmond hammered a shot from the blue line at Bobrovsky at the 5:45 mark, but Bob was able to deny it.
A 2 on 1 with Nick Foligno and Cam Atkinson comes to nothing as Rasmus Ristolainen is able to break it up. Foligno probably should have shot the puck there.
POST! After a Buffalo turnover, Artemi Panarin made a pass that I’m sure he only made because he’s a wizard and Cam Atkinson rang it off the right post. This line is beating down the door tonight.
Another rush from the first line forces Chad “Not Ochocinco” Johnson to hold on as Panarin was waiting on the doorstep for a rebound at the 9:30 mark.
A power play! The Blue Jackets would go on the first man advantage of the night as Alexander Wennberg drew a penalty while going 1 on 4 in the offensive zone. Zach Redmond went off for hooking at 10:33.
Well, the power play didn’t open great. Throwing the puck into the netting rushing into the zone was bad and not even entering the Buffalo zone until 40 seconds had passed was bad.
A Panarin drive forced a save. He and Cam look scary tonight.
BLUE JACKETS POWER PLAY GOAL! Oliver BJORKSTRAND hammers home the opener! Sonny Milano and Seth Jones drew the assists at 12:00.
Sergei Bobrovsky made a glove save to deny Sam Reinhart at 13:10. A push from Buffalo after the Columbus goal saw Ryan O’Reilly denied as well after a long shift in the defensive zone. After a change, a Savard turnover forced Bobrovsky to deny Redmond.
Cam Atkinson blocked a shot from Marco Scandella at the 15:30 mark and went off in some difficulty, but stayed on the bench.
Buffalo continued to push, as Ryan O’Reilly, Jake McCabe, and Zach Redmond all saw shots turned aside by Bobrovsky on a shift following the final TV timeout of the period.
Bobrovsky denies Evander Kane on the doorstep! With Jack Eichel below the goal line, he found Kane who was denied by the pad of Bobrovsky.
Crossbar! On a rush the other way, Zac Dalpe found a trailing Sonny Milano who hit the left crossbar behind Chad Johnson at the 18:30 mark.
Bobrovsky denied a 3 on 2. Ho hum, apparently, as Bob has played very well this period.
Sam Reinhart poked a chance wide by a hair as the period ended.
After 20 minutes, Columbus led Buffalo 1-0. Shots favored the Sabres 13-10.
SECOND PERIOD RECAP
The second period opened with Zach Werenski denying Jack Eichel a chance on a one on one opportunity. Werenski is so good.
Buffalo generated several chances after forcing a Wennberg turnover, but none of their shots found their way on net.
Crossbar! Oliver Bjorkstrand hit the crossbar almost exactly from the same spot he scored his power play goal at the 2:50 mark.
BOB! In quick succession, he denied Benoit Pouliot and Jason Pominville. Unreal sequence from the reigning Vezina winner.
Matt Calvert walked around Chad Johnson and his pass was tapped just wide of the net by Zach Werenski as Kyle Okposo reached in to deflect it away.
BOBROVSKY DA GAWD. After Werenski pinched in, Ryan O’Reilly grabbed a loose puck and streaked in all by himself for a breakaway. Bob got his right pad on the shot and turned it aside. Just give him the Vezina already.
Buffalo seemed to have the better run of play through the middle part of the period. The Sabres maintained sustained pressure in the Jackets’ zone. Lots of puck watching from the Jackets.
Dubinsky rushed up ice and forced a save from Chad Johnson, then crashed the net hoping for a rebound. There was a scrum involving Josh Anderson and Evander Kane with 8:30 remaining in the second period as nothing came of it.
Buffalo attempted to catch Columbus in a change but that turned into Panarin finding Foligno on a rush but his shot hit the outside of the net.
The line blender hit shortly after. Cam Atkinson reunited with Dubinsky and Boone Jenner, while Josh Anderson moved up to play with Foligno and Panarin. Calvert moved up to play with Wennberg and Bjorkstrand.
Jenner saw his shot gloved and held with 5:41 to go in the period. The lines shuffling seemed to help generate some mojo, even if the Milano line remained stapled to the bench for some reason. With 5 minutes to go in the period, Milano had played 4:16 in all situations. A total waste.
BLUE JACKETS GOAL! Cam Atkinson led a rush up ice and fed Brandon Dubinsky. He in turn found a trailing Seth Jones who buried it behind a Chad Johnson who was screened by Boone Jenner at 15:20. Assists to Dubinsky and Atkinson.
MILANO ON THE ICE. HOORAY.
BLUE JACKETS GOAL! Somehow! Nick Foligno was able to get the home fans chili after a rush led up the ice by Artemi Panarin. Panarin found Jack Johnson on the rush who put a shot on goal. The shot was saved and the rebound bounced in off of Foligno’s skate. After a review, the goal with 2:22 remaining stood, with an assist to Jack Johnson.
Pierre thinks Cam is going to get $7 million a year. If that’s the case, well, this is going to be Cam’s last year here.
BLUE JACKETS GOAL! After a shot from Markus Nutivaara leaked through his pads, Matt Calvert pounced to make it 4-0 and 3 goals in 2:59. The goal was scored at 18:19 and assisted Markus Nutivaara and Ryan Murray.
Buffalo power play. Boone Jenner would go to the box after committing a faceoff violation, about the only thing that hasn’t gone the Jackets’ way this period. It was the first faceoff violation penalty for Columbus in the regular season.
After 40 minutes, the Blue Jackets led 4-0. Shots favored the Jackets 27-25.
THIRD PERIOD RECAP
The Blue Jackets opened the third period by killing off the remaining 35 seconds of the delay of game penalty that was served by Zac Dalpe.
Panarin put two shots on net on the next shift, but both were turned aside by Chad Johnson.
Jackets power play! Zemgus Girgensons went off for high sticking. This one was much less successful, however, and Buffalo was able to kill the chance.
Going back to the start of last season, Bob is 25-9-0 with a 1.83 GAA and .941 SV%, the latter of which leads the NHL. That’s pretty good.
Bobrovsky! He denies several Buffalo chances with 7:30 gone to keep his shutout going.
Markus Nutivaara saw a one timer denied at at 9:30 of the period.
Torts went to work screwing with the lines again. Milano Dubinsky and Atkinson was just a line.
Not much action through the middle part of the period. Both teams looked to be content to see this one through to the end.
Sergei Bobrovsky saw some more action with 5:12 to go, but was able to keep his sterling save percentage going on a point blank shot.
Crossbar! Bjorkstrand for the second time tonight! His shot is so wicked and Pierre McGuire could not help but heap praise on him.
Sabres goal. Thus ends the Blue Jackets shutout bid. Seth Griffith let a quick wrister go into the top of the net with 2:34 to go. The Jackets were visibly disappointed, wanting to get their goaltender a shutout.
BLUE JACKETS GOAL! Josh Anderson was on a rush up ice and lasered a shot past Chad Johnson in the final minute of the game. Assists to Artemi Panarin and Alexander Wennberg at 19:21.
Columbus Blue Jackets 5 Buffalo Sabres 1
Third star: Oliver Bjorkstrand
Second star: Nick Foligno
First star: Sergei Bobrovsky
Sergei Bobrovsky tonight reminded all of us why he won the Vezina trophy last season. He denied breakaways, rebound chances, slap shots, efforts from the doorstep, everything thrown his way tonight. Bob was clearly on top of his game tonight as he very nearly shut out the Sabres but for a late goal.
The Blue Jackets played very sloppy with the puck tonight, giving up a great number of odd man rushes and one very memorable “all by his lonesome” breakaway to Ryan O’Reilly. That’ll give Torts something to work on getting cleaned up in practice.
Panarin can literally do no wrong, especially if posts more videos of his dog. More doggo videos please, Bread Man.
Neither of the commentators tonight seemed overly impressed with Alexander Wennberg tonight. Can’t say I disagree. Outside of drawing a penalty, he was largely invisible. This won’t get the Torts heat off of him any time soon. He did notch his 100th career assist on Anderson’s goal, though. Sincere congratulations to Wennberg on that milestone.
It was nice to see the second power play unit get on the board tonight. Bjorkstrand looks to finally be breaking out this season, not a moment too soon.
Seth Jones wore the kepi after the game was over, a much deserved honor. Jones was everywhere tonight, scoring the game winner and helping hold Jack Eichel to just 2 shots and a -2 rating.
Final stats: Columbus outshot Buffalo 38-35, went 1 for 2 on the power play, were beaten in the faceoff circle 40 to 34, and were outhit 21 to 18.
The Blue Jackets end their four game homestand on Friday night against the Winnipeg Jets at 7:00. It’s Hockey Fights Cancer night, hope to see y’all there!