The Blue Jackets returned to the ice for the first time in over a week following the All-Star Break and bye to take on the Sabres. Matiss Kivlenieks (22 saves), who made — and won — his only other start against the Rangers Jan. 19, took to the pipes today looking to stay perfect with Carter Hutton (22 saves) in the opposite net.
Columbus was looking to extend their season-high six-game win streak.
In the first period, the Blue Jackets had some notable chances, and it was the skate of Lawrence Pilut helping to keep the score tied at zero at one end, before the Sabres were able to crack the scoreboard moments later at the other end.
I was telling PD during the game that I felt like calling Kivlenieks, ‘Kleen-ex,’ because Kiv-lenix almost sounds like Kleen-ex. And then the goal he ended up allowing looked soft. Evan Rodrigues scored the goal while Rasmus Dahlin picked up an assist.
What looked like an initial goal for the Blue Jackets in the waning minutes of the second period was wiped off the board due to Alexander Wennberg kicking in a Cam Atkinson rebound. As the Blue Jackets broadcast said, it was more of a reaction by Wennberg than possibly a distinct kicking motion, but it looked doubtful that it would remain a good goal on the replays anyway.
So we had the same 1-0 score carry over into the third. The Blue Jackets came in 6-14-1 when trailing after two, while the Sabres were 18-1-0 when leading after two. But it was only a one-goal game and the Jackets came in outscoring opponents 49-32 in the third period this season, by far their best of any period.
My thought in between periods was ‘when is Oliver Bjorkstrand going to score?’ and at the 5:45 mark, the one they used to call The Maestro orchestrated the tying goal, his 17th of the season. Gustav Nyquist and Pierre-Luc Dubois assisted, with the scoring play coming about on a neutral zone turnover.
The Great Dane now has a four-game goal streak — seven goals over the last four games — and 10 goals in six of his last seven games. In overtime, though, Jack Eichel signed, sealed, and delivered the Buffalo victory with his 31st goal. Rasmus Ristolainen and Sam Reinhart picked up the assists.
It’s kind of crazy Eichel has already scored the most goals in any one season, this season.
Anyway, for Columbus, with points now in 21 of 23 games, Columbus travels to Montreal to take on the Canadiens tomorrow afternoon — Super Bowl Sunday! — at 2 pm ET. We’ll probably see the return of Elvis Merzlikins tomorrow.
Andrew Peeke (scratch) was recalled from the Monsters prior to today’s game. Joonas Korpisalo and Josh Anderson are both on the trip but did not play. Sonny Milano was a scratch. I liked how both Nathan Gerbe (no. 24) and Zach Werenski (no. 8) were the only Blue Jackets players on the ice prior to the game during the national anthems as a tribute to the late Kobe Bryant. Per Bluejackets.com Columbus has swept their last three back-to-backs, and came in 16-3-3 in their last 22 afternoon games before 5 pm ET. The Blue Jackets have played in the most one-goal games on the season (31). The win for Hutton was his first since Oct. 22. Zach Werenski was the Jackets’ ice-time leader (23:57), while Rasmus Ristolainen led the game (24:26). Oliver Bjorkstrand and Colin Miller each led way with four shots for their respective teams.