Game 10 Recap: The Frayed Ends of Sanity

"Old habits reappear
Fighting the fear of fear
Growing conspiracy / Myself is after me
Frayed ends of sanity
Hear them calling me"
The Frayed Ends of Sanity - Metallica

The Blue Jackets came in to this game looking to build off of their season's first win on Tuesday night. They would be again facing a backup goalie, as the Sabres chose to rest Ryan Miller tonight. Columbus got more than their share of shots against the Sabres, but could they make them count?

I hate to go back to the Metallica well yet again so early into the season, but that first line is really what got me on it. How many times have we seen this movie so far on the young season? Jackets massively out-shoot their opponent, but opponent's backup goalie looks like a Vezina candidate. Jackets fall behind early, but battle back to tie it up. Jackets almost immediately give a goal right back after scoring. Jackets can't kill penalties. I don't have to tell you, but it's getting old.

Columbus carried much of the play throughout the first period, outshooting the Sabres 17-13. But, the difference in the first was special teams. The Jackets got two Power Plays to Buffalo's one, but Buffalo made theirs count. James Wisniewski cranked a shot from the blue line on a Jackets Power Play, but the iron was unkind as he clinked it off the post after beating Jonas Enroth.

Columbus would not be as lucky on their lone time short-handed, as with Aaron Johnson off for a hook the Sabres' top combo of Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville would set up Buffalo's first goal. Vanek got the puck to Pominville off to Mason's right, and he floated a shot that was tipped in front by Brad Boyes just enough to squeak past the Jackets' netminder.

1-0 Sabres: BUF Brad Boyes (2) from Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek - 14:07 - PPG

The Jackets got another chance up a skater when Andrej Sekera cleared the puck over the glass at 15:37, but the Jackets couldn't convert. The Sabres' PK was one of the stories tonight.

End of 1st Period: 1-0 Sabres

The second period began with the Sabres bringing more jump. The period would end with the teams trading goals, and with the Jackets out-shooting Buffalo 16-6. Buffalo would get on the board first, as a blocked shot led to a three-on-three the other way. Ryan Johansen got back to his man (Vanek), but left too much space, and Vanek got a solid shot off from the slot. Steve Mason made a kick save, but the rebound kicked right to Jason Pominville who poked it home for an easy goal.

2-0 Sabres: BUF Jason Pominville (3) from Thomas Vanek and Luke Adam - 4:51 - EV

The Jackets--as usual--could have folded up shop. But, they did not. They couldn't seem to get anything going, but it was a great individual effort that seemed to turn the tide a bit. Kris Russell blocked a shot high, and the puck ended up on Antoine Vermette's stick. He found Vinny Prospal streaking across the neutral zone after a change, and Prospal got the puck one-on-one. He shook inside, beat the defensman, and wristed a shot high to the blocker side of Enroth.

2-1 Sabres: CBJ Vinny Prospal (4) from Antoine Vermette and Kris Russell - 12:10 - EV

The Jackets got fired up, and carried the rest of the period's play. Prospal got another couple of chances, and Rick Nash got into the act as well. The Jackets had a similar chance to Buffalo's second goal, where Nash fired a shot from the left slot. Enroth kicked the rebound out to the side where Derick Brassard was cruising in. The difference? The Sabres' defenseman was able to clear it away just ahead of Brassard's stick.

End of 2nd Period: 2-1 Sabres

The teams would trade penalties early in the third. In fact, from the 2:49 to the 5:16 mark, there were three penalties called. The Sabres' PK was on display, though, as Columbus would finish the night at 0-for-6 on the man advantage. Columbus needed a spark, and a wonky bounce would give it to them.

Samuel Pahlsson brought the puck over the line into the Sabres' zone, and a deflected pass trickled toward Enroth. Fedor Tyutin, of all people, was in the play and streaking to the net. Enroth hesitated for a split second going to possibly play the puck, and Tyutin was able to get his backhand on it and flip it over Enroth, who was down a bit.

2-2: CBJ Fedor Tyutin (1) from Samuel Pahlsson - 10:52 - EV

But, continuing the crappy old habits theme, the Jackets couldn't stand success. Christian Erhoff launched a shot off the end boards, and it bounced right back in front. Nathan Gerbe got a shot off that kicked wide, and Patrick Kaleta was unmanned and buried the rebound.

3-2 Sabres: BUF Patrick Kaleta (1) from Nathan Gerbe and Christian Erhoff - 14:08 - EV

Columbus sealed their own fate, as Tyutin took a high stick penalty, and the special teams woes continued. Pominville and Vanek would combine again to ice it. Grant Clitsome's stick broke on the PK, and Aaron Johnson got the puck low, and literally wiped out below the goal line. Brad Boyes was there to collect it, he fed it to Vanek, who came around and fed it to Pominville in front who was able to bury it past Mason to seal it.

4-2 Sabres: BUF Jason Pominville (4) from Thomas Vanek and Brad Boyes - 17:36 - PP

That was pretty much all she wrote, sportsfans. 1-8-1.

Final Score: 4-2 Sabres

Standard Bearers:

  • Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek - These two were unstoppable. They notched six points between them. Pominville had two goals and an assist, and Vanek assisted on three of the four goals. Two of the three goals they contributed to were on the Power Play. The Jackets had no answers.
  • Sabres' Special Teams - Overall, they were 8 out of 9: they killed off six Jackets' Power Plays, and were 2-for-3 on the PP themselves; in fact, the only PP on which they didn't score was truncated by a high stick penalty on Tyler Myers.
  • Jonas Enroth - Fighting the puck early, he got settled in and stopped 41 of 43 shots. Ridiculous.
  • Vinny Prospal - Got the Jackets going midway through the second with a beautiful individual effort for a goal, and a couple of solid shifts. The Jackets were great the rest of the second, and got the tying goal in the third.

Bottom of the Barrell:

  • Jackets' Special Teams - Conversely, they went 0-for-6 on the Power Play, and their PK woes are mind-boggling at this point. In their last three road games, they've given up SEVEN PP goals. It has to stop. By far the worst PK unit in the league at this point.
  • Jackets' Finishing - I've touched on this in previous recaps: 43 shots and TWO FREAKING GOALS. Unacceptable. Unconscionable. Disgusting.

The effort was there again. The shots were there. The Jackets need to figure out how to capitalize on these chances, or it's going to be a long year.

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