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game recap

Nash leads Jackets past Sabres 5-1

Friday, 11.25.2011 / 10:02 PM

NHL.com

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Nash leads Jackets past Sabres 5-1
Buffalo Sabres 1, Columbus Blue Jackets 5
Three Stars of the Game
Rick Nash
1st
G: 2Shots: 5
A: 0Hits: 2
PTS: 2PIM: 0
+/-: 1TOI: 18:47
Marc Methot
2nd
G: 1Shots: 1
A: 0Hits: 1
PTS: 1PIM: 0
+/-: 1TOI: 17:41
Vinny Prospal
3rd
G: 0Shots: 0
A: 0Hits: 0
PTS: 0PIM: 0
+/-: 1TOI: 18:44
If the saying doesn't exist yet in Columbus, it will after Friday: As captain Rick Nash goes, so go the Blue Jackets.

As the Jackets' talisman, Nash entered their game against Buffalo with just five goals on the season, a number matched by his team's total in the win column. Nash skated off the Nationwide Arena ice with two goals, and his team matched season highs for goals and margin of victory by beating the Sabres 5-1.

"Any time you can get a couple goals, it takes the pressure off big-time at home," said Nash, who now has seven on the season. "The guys stuck to the game play right off the start and it seemed to work."

Curtis Sanford – thought by many to be a retread plugged into the crease to spell a struggling Steve Mason – had 28 saves. He and the Jackets are 3-0-2 in the last five games. Mark Letestu, Marc Method and RJ Umberger also scored for Columbus (6-13-3), and Ryan Johansen, James Wisniewski and Jeff Carter had two assists.

The Jackets are quietly riding a 4-1-2 wave after a brutal 2-12-1 start. At the same time, Nash seems to be waking up, with three goals and two assists in four games.

Buffalo (12-9-1) pulled starting goalie Jhonas Enroth after he allowed four goals – including two just 12 seconds apart – on 18 shots in the first 25 minutes. Justin Leopold scored the lone Sabre goal.

"I don't know if I've seen it this bad before," said Buffalo's Lindy Ruff, the NHL's longest-tenured coach. "I think we've got seven regulars out of the lineup. We need to make better plays than we did tonight. Obviously when you're short-handed you've got to be good with the puck."

Nash got his first on a power play at 16:19 of the first period when he deflected a Wisniewski blue-line blast past Enroth. He finished the scoring with his second, a tip-in of a sublime cross-ice feed from Jeff Carter at 14:07 of the second.

Letestu opened the scoring at 10:50 when he pounced on the rebound of Johansen's wrister, firing low to Enroth's left for his third of the season. Nash's goal made it 2-0, and four minutes into the second period, Columbus doubled the advantage and chased Enroth with the two quick  tallies.

Methot, a defenseman, scored his first of the season when his long blast found its way past a screened Enroth at 4:17. Before the goal could be announced, Johansen ripped a shot from the right boards that trickled through Enroth's legs. Umberger was first to the puck, and pushed it over the line for his third of the season.

With the game effectively over, Sanford's only mistake came on a pretty individual move from Leopold, who scored his fifth of the season when he took an outlet pass at the red line from Zach Kassian, skated easily around Wisniewski and whipped it past Sanford's glove and into the far post.

After Leopold's goal, Buffalo mounted attack after attack – including a power play – but was continuously foiled by Sanford.

"That was probably the most important part of the game," Sanford said. "Getting the kill at that time was huge. They could have brought to back to two goals but the guys did a really good job boxing out their guys and letting me see the puck."

Minutes later, Nash finished the game off with his seventh of the season.

The Jackets look nothing like the team that spent the first five weeks of the season finding ways to lose.

"We're getting pucks deep, we're not making it hard on ourselves," Nash said of his team's surge. "We're trying not to have any turnovers at the blue lines. It's just a lot simpler game. It seems to work for the people we have in this room."

Material from team media and wire services was used in this report
scoring summary
1st Period
10:50
CBJ
Mark Letestu (3) Wrist shot - ASST: Ryan Johansen (4), Fedor Tyutin (8)
1 - 0 CBJ
16:19
CBJ
PPG - Rick Nash (6) Deflected shot - ASST: James Wisniewski (8), Jeff Carter (4)
2 - 0 CBJ
2nd Period
04:17
CBJ
Marc Methot (1) Wrist shot - ASST: James Wisniewski (9), Derek Dorsett (2)
3 - 0 CBJ
04:29
CBJ
R.J. Umberger (3) Tip-in - ASST: Ryan Johansen (5)
4 - 0 CBJ
08:01
BUF
Jordan Leopold (5) Wrist shot - ASST: Zack Kassian (1), Robyn Regehr (1)
4 - 1 CBJ
14:07
CBJ
Rick Nash (7) Tip-in - ASST: Jeff Carter (5), Nikita Nikitin (5)
5 - 1 CBJ
3rd Period
NONE
penalty summary
1st Period
02:43
BUF
Luke Adam  Tripping against  Nikita Nikitin
03:17
CBJ
Grant Clitsome  Hooking against  Jason Pominville
15:50
BUF
Marc-Andre Gragnani  Interference against  Derek Dorsett
18:56
BUF
Thomas Vanek  Hooking against  Derek Dorsett
2nd Period
05:32
BUF
Matt Ellis  Hooking against  Derek MacKenzie
11:11
CBJ
Derek MacKenzie  Tripping against  TJ Brennan
3rd Period
01:46
BUF
TJ Brennan  Hi-sticking against  Ryan Johansen
14:46
CBJ
Derek Dorsett  Hooking against  Luke Adam
20:00
CBJ
Jeff Carter  Interference against  Thomas Vanek
goalie stats
Jhonas Enroth
SA: 18TOI: 24:29
Saves: 14EV: 13 - 16
PIM: 0PP: 1 - 2
SV%: .778SH: 0 - 0
Drew MacIntyre
SA: 16TOI: 35:31
Saves: 15EV: 8 - 9
PIM: 0PP: 6 - 6
SV%: .938SH: 1 - 1
Curtis Sanford
SA: 29TOI: 59:56
Saves: 28EV: 21 - 22
PIM: 0PP: 7 - 7
SV%: .966SH: 0 - 0