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Game #79 Recap: Blue Jackets Win Fifth Straight, Blank Sabres 4-0

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Jackets are hot

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Buffalo Sabres Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Blue Jackets rolled into Buffalo on Sunday looking for their fifth straight win and second in less than 24 hours. Not only did they pick up another victory, they shut out the Sabres as they kept their hot streak alive with a 4-0 win.

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped all 38 shots he saw for his league-leading ninth shutout of the season and the 33rd of his career. He’s been red-hot lately, allowing only 14 goals in his last 11 starts.

Columbus used first period goals from Pierre-Luc Dubois, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Nick Foligno to jump on the Sabres early. Josh Anderson added another late in the second. In a game that saw no penalties in the final two periods or any scoring in the third, the Blue Jackets’ win characterized “businesslike.”

Pittsburgh also beat Carolina 3-1 in regulation on Sunday, moving the Blue Jackets into the first wild card spot (and three points behind third-place Pittsburgh) with three games left in the regular season.

Dubois led all players with three points on the night. Foligno and Ryan Dzingel each added a pair as well.

First Period

The Blue Jackets struck 7:14 into the game with some beautiful puck movement. Zach Werenski looped behind the goal and found Seth Jones at the point, who threw the puck on net. Dubois met the puck in front and deflected it past Linus Ullmark for the first goal of the game and his 25th of the season.

Blue Jackets 1, Sabres 0, 7:14 into the first period

Zemgus Girgensons interfered with Brandon Dubinsky at 11:46 for the game’s first penalty. The Blue Jackets had some chances—including a point blank shot from Dubois that a Sabre blocked—but the Blue Jackets eventually converted one second after the power play expired. Oliver Bjorkstrand slapped home a Dubois pass for a 2-0 CBJ lead, marking his fifth straight game with a goal.

Blue Jackets 2, Sabres 0, 13:46 into the first period

Dean Kukan committed Columbus’s first penalty (hooking at 15:11) but Victor Olofsson took a holding penalty of his own 18 seconds into Buffalo’s power play to erase the home side’s man advantage. The Blue Jackets couldn’t do much with their abbreviated advantage, though they did tack on another goal shortly after.

Dzingel found Foligno in front, whose wraparound attempt bounced off Brandon Montour and in the net for Foligno’s 17th of the year. Hey, the only thing that matters is that it goes in.

Blue Jackets 3, Sabres 0, 17:47 into the first period

The CBJ allowed 12 shots in the first, putting up 13 of their own. Perfect road period? Pretty darn close.

Second Period

Virtually nothing happened for three-fourths of the second period (honestly) until the Blue Jackets struck with just under five minutes to go.

Ryan Dzingel made another great pass to get the puck out of the CBJ zone to set up an odd-man-rush with Anderson and Dubois. Anderson beat Ullmark with a nasty wrister for his 27th of the season.

Blue Jackets 4, Sabres 0, 15:31 into the second period

Scary moment late in the period when Jack Eichel took a shot that knocked a diving Sergei Bobrovsky’s mask off. He was OK, and the period ended soon after.

Buffalo held a 13-11 edge in shots but Columbus’s goal was the only thing that mattered. 4-0 good guys after two.

Third Period

Zach Werenski took a shot to the face early in the period and headed down the tunnel, scaring Blue Jackets fans in the process. He did return, though.

Bob stood tall on a series of saves midway through as the Sabres got loose in front of the net to create several shots in vain.

The game became oddly chippy in the third. Both sides jawed at each other during a media timeout and Nick Foligno stood up Sam Reinhart at the blue line, causing some post-whistle commotion.

Foligno nearly scored again late in the game. His spin-o-rama and shot off the rush squeezed through Ullmark, but slid inches past the post.

Final Thoughts

  • Five in a row. Jackets are hot.
  • Bob’s one shutout away from tying Steve Mason’s single-season record of 10.
  • Oliver Bjorkstrand registered six shots. Kid’s on fire.
  • The ice time has been balanced lately. Foligno led all forwards with 17 minutes and Dzingel brought up the rear at 13:32. It looks like Columbus can truly roll all four lines. Watch out.
  • Columbus created 13 high-danger scoring chances at 5-on-5 to Buffalo’s eight, according to NaturalStatTrick.com.
  • Look at this 5-on-5 heat map, courtesy of Natural Stat Trick. The Blue Jackets sure found a spot they liked:
5-on-5 heat map from Columbus Blue Jackets at Buffalo Sabres NaturalStatTrick.com
  • Next game: Tuesday at home against Boston. Carolina plays at Toronto the same night. So begins the final week of the season.