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Buffalo Wild Wins: Blue Jackets defeat the Sabres 7-4

A win is a win no matter how it goes down. It was a sloppy affair Monday night when the Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Buffalo Sabres by a final score of 7-4. The Jackets went up by three goals in the second period and ended up winning a nail biter, so don’t be deceived by the three goal differential. They end their mini road trip with a 2-1 record. Let’s take a look at how it happened.

First Period

At the start of this one, nobody would have guessed that it was the Buffalo Sabres who were on the second half of a back-to-back. From the drop of the puck the Sabres were all over the Jackets, and kept them hemmed in their own end for the first few minutes of the game. It didn’t take long before Buffalo capitalized on their chances. The Jackets were stuck in their defensive zone when Joonas Korpisalo tried to steer a harmless point shot to the corner. The puck didn’t make it there, and instead landed on the stick of Victor Oloffson. He found Tage Thompson in front of the net who was easily able to beat Korpisalo who was out of position.

1-0 Buffalo (Thompson from Oloffson and Jokiharju)

After a few more scrambly minutes in their defensive zone, the Jackets started to get their feet under them and started to spend some time in Buffalo’s end. Jack Roslovic finally got the monkey off his back when he popped a puck over Tokarski’s glove from a poke pass from Zach Werenski.

1-1 (Roslovic from Werenski and Hofmann)

Not long after, Yegor Chinakhov boarded by Henri Jokiharju. It could have and maybe should have been a five minute major. Yegor went down the tunnel to get checked out, but thankfully he was cleared to return. The Jackets were not able to make Buffalo pay for the cheap shot.

It was Jack Roslovic again who found the back of the net six minutes later. Credit to Jack for beating the goaltender with the shot, but this play belongs on Max Domi’s highlight reel. Domi pulled up upon entering the offensive zone, passed the puck to himself between the legs of a defender before passing it to Roslovic.

2-1 CBJ (Roslovic from Domi and Bayreuther)

Buffalo was able to put together a few strong response shifts, but wasn’t able to put any real high danger chances on net…until the end of the period.

Rasmus Dahlin had a great chance in the last minute but Korpisalo was able to make a sprawling save. Buffalo kept the pressure up, and drew a penalty from Andrew Peeke in the dying seconds of the period. Columbus couldn’t survive the remaining five seconds of the frame, and surrendered a goal with 0.4 seconds remaining in the period.

2-2 (Girgensons from Miller and Dahlin)

Second Period

Everything happened in the second period. The Blue Jackets wasted literally no time regaining the momentum, scoring 24 seconds into the period when Oliver BJORKSTRAND took a pass from Gus Nyquist on the rush and basically shot the puck through Tokarski’s glove.

3-2 CBJ (BJORKSTRAND from Nyquist and Jenner)

Just 31 seconds later the Jackets struck again. Max Domi received a feed from Gregory Hofmann and fired it past Tokarski to double the lead. The goal marked a franchise record for the fastest two goals to start a period at 55 seconds.

4-2 (Domi from Hofmann and Roslovic)

That was it for Dustin Tokarski. It was probably a good thing since he appeared to have left his glove at home. Aaron Dell came on in replacement to try and stop the bleeding. It wouldn’t be easy for Dell, as his team found themselves on the penalty kill shortly after he entered the game.

The Jackets weren’t able to convert on the man advantage, but they were able to maintain possession at full strength as if they were still a man up. Columbus extended their lead to three when Gus Nyquist appeared to tip home a Gavrikov shot from the point. After further review it was determined to have deflected off a Buffalo Sabre, giving Vladdy his first of the year.

5-2 CBJ (Gavrikov from Peeke and Domi)

Confidence was high and the Jackets had all the momentum. Unfortunately that would not last very long, because less than a minute later Buffalo would get one back. Jeff Skinner found a streaking Dylan Cozens who roofed a shot over Korpisalo’s glove.

5-3 CBJ (Cozens from Skinner and Miller)

All of this occurred in the first five minutes of the period.

A few uneventful minutes later, Alexandre Texier went off for tripping, putting Buffalo on the power play with a chance to make it a one goal game. It took Buffalo all of about 6 seconds to do just that. Tage Thompson scored his second of the game on an absolute laser of a one-timer that beat Korpisalo short-side top shelf.

5-4 CBJ (Thompson from Dahlin and Cozens)

From there, the period calmed down and the score remained the same heading into the final 20 minutes.

Third Period

It was a lot of back and forth hockey to start, with neither team yielding much. It was a lot of clogged lanes and blocked shots. The first ten minutes of the frame passed with hardly any whistles. It looked as if the Blue Jackets might slop their way through the third period to a victory.

With about 9 minutes remaining in the period, Yegor Chinakhov got a a bit overzealous in his puck pursuit and was dinged for hooking (only after some protest from the Sabres bench). The Blue Jackets were hanging on by a thread when Gus Nyquist was called for tripping Rasmus Asplund as he attempted to enter the zone. Nyquist felt it was a dive, but he was off the the box regardless, leaving his team to kill off 36 seconds of a 5-on-3.

Surprisingly the Sabres were not able to muster much at all from that point on and the Jackets were successful at killing both penalties. After a horrible previous two penalty kills, the pk unit came up big in the clutch.

The Blue Jackets were content to grind the remaining minutes away, constantly clearing the zone and make the Sabres carry it up the length of the ice and enter the zone time and time again. They were playing not to lose.

With time expiring, Buffalo pulled their netminder to try and tie it up.  The Jackets would capitalize and end up with two empty netters. Vladislav Gavrikov attempted to clear a puck off a faceoff win from Boone Jenner. A bouncing puck off the sideboards hopped over Rasmus Dahlin’s stick and went nearly entire 200 foot length of the ice into the empty cage.

6-4 CBJ (Gavrikov from Jenner)

Sean Kuraly would tally his own empty netter from about 175 feet to cap off the scoring and seal the game for the Blue Jackets.

7-4 CBJ (Kuraly unassisted)

It was a three goal win that was way closer than the final score would indicate, but I’m definitely glad to be on the winning end of it.

Also, my “Player to Watch” from the preview was indeed THE player to watch. Great game from Max Domi and his linemates.

The Blue Jackets return home on Wednesday when they “welcome” Pierre-Luc Dubois and the Jets to town.