Blue Jackets hold off Sabres for fourth straight win
BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Columbus Blue Jackets keep picking up wins, though on Monday night they had to do it the hard way.
After jumping out to a 3-0 lead, Columbus surrendered two third-period goals before holding off a furious rally from the Buffalo Sabres on its way to a 3-2 victory.
“Things got fired up a little bit but it’s also a good challenge for us,” said Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. “A good test to see how composed we are and we closed the game and we got two points.”
Artemi Panarin, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Boone Jenner scored for the Blue Jackets (13-7-1), who have won four games in a row.
Crunch time for Columbus came with 1:55 remaining after Seth Jones received a minor penalty for holding. The Sabres came on hard and had the puck on the goal line with 1:46 remaining following a scrum in the crease. Following a lengthy replay review, officials ruled there was no goal.
The Sabres had several more chances after pulling goaltender Robin Lehner for a 6-on-4 advantage but were unable to score.
“Find a way to win,” Jenner said. “It’s not ideal giving up two in the third with that much time left, you’ve got to kind of sharpen your game up at that point in the game but you learn from it and we regrouped and found a way to win. That’s the main thing.”
Bobrovsky was excellent throughout for the Blue Jackets, making 30 saves. He had a shutout streak come to an end at 1:17:23 after allowing a goal midway through the third period.
“I don’t have a word to describe (him),” Jenner said. “He’s been amazing for us and again tonight he was right there. He’s our rock.”
Sam Reinhart and Evander Kane scored for the Sabres (5-12-4), who struggled once again on offense before finding their game in the third period. Lehner made 26 saves.
“You’re playing against one of the best goaltenders in the league, we talked about making it difficult for him,” Sabres coach Phil Housley said. “At times, we did. That last play I thought we did an excellent job of crashing the net.”
The Sabres scored more than one goal for just the third time in their past eight games but came up on the losing end for the sixth game in a row.
“It’s frustrating knowing how we can play, how we can be against really the best teams in the league,” Reinhart said. “We’ve got to find a way to mentally demand more and expect more.”
Dubois opened the scoring on a controversial goal 4:14 into the second period. After Blue Jackets right winger Oliver Bjorkstrand ran into Lehner, Bjorkstrand found Dubois for an easy finish. The goal was not reviewed under video replay, and the Sabres did not challenge the goal. It was Dubois’ third goal of the season.
Panarin made it 2-0 on a spectacular shot 5:47 into the third period. After finding his way past Sabres defenseman Marco Scandella inside the right circle, Panarin ripped a hard shot off the far post and in for his fifth goal of the season.
“He’s got this release that fools goalies,” Dubois said. “I don’t know what he does exactly but you can just see he’s got that talent to get the shot off quick and hit the hole.”
Jenner made it 3-0 9:24 into the third after a wrap-around pass by Cam Atkinson.
Reinhart got the Sabres on the board on a deflection from the front of the net 9:37 into the third.
Kane cut Columbus’ lead to one with 3:32 remaining on a low shot from the left circle.
“I know we’re capable of playing like that,” Kane said of Buffalo’s frantic finish. “It’s a mindset, it’s an attitude. ... We have nothing to lose. I don’t understand the starts.”
NOTES: D Casey Nelson and LW Matt Moulson were scratched for the Sabres. Nelson was recalled from the AHL’s Rochester Americans on Nov. 16. ... D Scott Harrington and C Alexander Wennberg were scratched for the Blue Jackets. ... D Zach Bogosian (lower body, 21 games) and D Rasmus Ristolainen (upper body, eight games) remain on injured reserve for Buffalo. ... This was the second of three meetings between the teams this season. The third and final meeting takes place on Jan. 11 in Buffalo. ... Sabres D Justin Falk played for Columbus from 2014 to 2016, posting six points in 29 games.