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Preseason Game #5 Recap: Columbus Blue Jackets mostly-NHL roster beat Buffalo Sabres 5-3

The Blue Jackets are getting closer to icing their full NHL roster, bringing a lineup of mostly regulars to Buffalo. Here’s how they performed.

NHL: SEP 28 Preseason - Sabres at Blue Jackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets headed to Buffalo on Monday night to face off with the Buffalo Sabres as we inch closer to the start of the season. The Blue Jackets announced they would be bringing an NHL regular heavy roster to visit the Sabres in preparation for the start of the season.

The team also announced cuts and minor league moves today, trimming the training camp roster to 30 players.

The team also released two players from tryout agreements.

With the NHL season quickly approaching, chemistry and special teams would be of particular note as the lineup featured mostly regulars. Head Coach Brad Larsen indicated that Joonas Korpisalo would get the start and play two periods, while Daniil Tarasov would come on in relief for the third period.

Here’s what happened.

First Period

The Blue Jackets opened the game on the front foot and earned a power play nearly immediately as Yegor Chinakhov drew a hooking penalty at 2:38 of the first period. It did not take long for the team to capitalize as Jake Voracek beat the Buffalo netminder and gave the Blue Jackets a 1-0 just 3:31 into the first period.

Blue Jackets goal (1-0): Voracek from Bjorkstrand and Werenski, 3:31

A Buffalo minor on the power play kept the Jackets on the man advantage, but the Sabres were able to kill it off.

Neither team was able to get much going offensively after the first power play goal; shots were just three shots per side through the middle of the period.

Jenner walked down from the right wing wall and put a great scoring chance on the Buffalo netminder Luukkonen but was denied. With 7:12 remaining, a neutral zone turnover sprang Emil Bemstrom on a breakaway as Rasmus Dahlin was dispossessed but Bemstrom was able to roof a backhander past Luukkonen for a two goal advantage.

Columbus goal (2-0): Bemstrom, unassisted, 12:49

With 2:55 remaining in the first, Buffalo generated their first real dangerous chances. Hinostroza and Jeff Skinner combined for an effort that nearly beat Korpisalo but he was able to cover. On the ensuing faceoff, a shot from Hinostroza bounced to Casey Mittlestadt who was able to shovel it past Korpisalo. Laine did a poor job of defensive coverage, letting Mittlestadt walk right past him to the puck.

Buffalo goal (1-2): Mittlestadt from Hinostroza and Skinner, 17:12

With 1:27 remaining, Chinakhov found himself alone in front of the net but his shot was absolutely robbed by Luukkonen’s glove hand. With 16.3 seconds remaining, Jeff Skinner had a great look to tie the game, but Korpisalo was able to fight it off and the Blue Jackets got to first intermission leading 2-1 on the scoreboard and 11-7 in shots.

Second Period

At the 59 second mark of the first period Oliver Bjorkstrand drew a cross checking penalty, sending the Jackets back to the man advantage. After Buffalo forced an exit and re-entry, Boone Jenner took a pass unmarked at the top of the crease and was able to beat Luukkonen five hole to restore the two goal lead.

Columbus goal (3-1): Jenner from Voracek and Laine, 1:35

Buffalo pressed hard to cut the deficit back to one, but Korpisalo was able to do enough to keep Columbus afloat. Kyle Okposo had a nice chance that Korpisalo was able to kick to the side. As we crossed the middle part of the period, Emil Bemstrom had an excellent opportunity to score his second of the game but was denied on the doorstep by Luukkonen.

With 6:43 to go in the second, the Sabres went to the power play for the first time on the night as Boone Jenner was boxed for hooking. The Blue Jackets were able to kill the penalty off, however - of note, Cole Sillinger earned some time on the penalty kill. With the Jackets back to full strength, the team forced a Sabres turnover. Voracek took the puck below the net and fed Patrik Laine in the slot who made no mistake, burying the puck with 16:12 gone.

Columbus goal (4-1): Laine from Voracek, 16:12

Seconds later, Gustav Nyquist connected with Oliver Bjorkstrand who threw a shot at the net, it hit something in front, and it deflected into the net.

Columbus goal (5-1): Bjorkstrand from Nyquist and Werenski, 17:24

Columbus was able to see out the period and go into intermission with a commanding 5-1 lead. The NHL roster was taking care of business.

Third Period

Daniil Tarasov took over for Joonas Korpisalo to start the third. Korpisalo saved 17 of 18 in his preseason debut. No goaltender change for Buffalo.

The Blue Jackets picked up right where they left off to start the third, firing puck after puck at the Sabres net but were unable to put a sixth over the line through the first seven minutes of the period. Werenski and Chinakhov both saw great chances denied by Luukkonen.

With 13:34 remaining, Peterka for the Sabres chipped the puck around Werenski and beat him to the puck and was able to bury it past Tarasov. Not exactly Werenski’s best showing.

Buffalo goal (2-5): Peterka from Asplund, 6:26

As we crossed the ten minute mark, Roslovic had an excellent chance but was denied by the pad of Luukkonen. With 8:45 to go, Middlestadt fired his second of the game past Tarasov, a snap shot far side past Tarasov. Could Buffalo find more third period magic against Columbus?

Buffalo goal (3-5): Mittlestadt from Skinner, 11:15

Lack of focus and ability to close games was showing up against for Columbus. Mittlestadt just walked through four players to fire his goal home. Those types of mistakes can’t happen in third periods in games that matter.

With 3:25 to go, Tage Thompson hit the post, having beaten Tarasov but not his best friend. With two minutes to go, Buffalo pulled Luukkonen for the extra attacker, but Columbus saw the win out.

Final

Columbus Blue Jackets 5 Buffalo Sabres 3

Final Thoughts

A mostly NHL roster did what was expected - beat a bad Buffalo team that had some AHL players in the roster. It was closer than you might have liked, but it was a win and 5-1 with an NHL experienced goaltender in net.

Do the Blue Jackets have a power play? It is the preseason, but after the last few years, any progress is progress. Having a great playmaker like Jakub Voracek certainly helps and should be a big addition - he’s not afraid to make the passes necessary to generate opportunities.

Emil Bemstrom, fighting for a roster spot, was quite noticeable. He scored a goal, nearly scored a second, and was active with the stick in the neutral zone. Good effort from a player that needs to put on good showings.

Tarasov is still a ways off in his development track from contending for an NHL job. Buffalo pushed hard in the third, but tonight was not his best outing.

Looking more and more like Cole Sillinger and Yegor Chinakhov are on the opening night roster.

Up Next

The Blue Jackets return home to face off with the Detroit Red Wings in their preseason home finale on Wednesday, October 6. Faceoff is set for 7 PM EST.