Make it six in a row for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Ryan Johansen scored the winner in the shootout, and Brandon Dubinsky had a goal and an assist to lead the Blue Jackets to a 4-3 victory against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center on Saturday.
It was the sixth consecutive win for Columbus (24-20-4), which tied a franchise record and moved it into a virtual tie with the Washington Capitals for a wild-card berth in the race for a Stanley Cup Playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. David Savard and Matt Calvert also scored for the Blue Jackets, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 26 saves before denying all three shooters in the shootout.
"We didn't play our best game, but we played a solid game," Johansen said. "They're a pretty good team over there and they played us hard. You've got to give them credit too. But our guys stuck with it and found a way."
Columbus was 24.9 seconds away from a regulation victory, but Tyler Myers scored on the power play to send the game to overtime.
Myers, who was playing in his 300th NHL game, had two goals, and Drew Stafford scored for Buffalo (13-27-7). Ryan Miller stopped 32 of 35 shots through 65 minutes and denied the Blue Jackets' first two shooters before Johansen scored in the third round.
Buffalo needed 59 seconds after the opening faceoff to score. Matt Moulson fed a streaking Myers in the slot and the hulking defenseman ripped a wrist shot past Bobrovsky for his fifth goal of the season and second in seven games.
"We're doing a better job of playing the same way throughout a 60-minute game," Myers said. "We still have lapses, but you can tell there's a huge difference to where we were even a month ago, and even two weeks ago. I think we're getting better and better at our consistency. It's just a matter of sticking with it. It's a habit you have to start forming. We've had some bad habits in the past, and you can tell we're starting to make those into good ones. It's just a matter of keep pushing forward."
Savard tied it for Columbus at 6:19. Derek MacKenzie took a drop pass from Mark Letestu and fired a slap shot from the left wing that missed the net and went around the boards. Savard collected it at the right circle and let go a slap shot that beat Miller to make it 1-1. It was Savard's third goal of the season.
Stafford restored Buffalo's lead 28 seconds later. With the teams at even strength, Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski tried to make a pass from behind his own net through the slot, but the puck went off Dubinsky's skate right to Tyler Ennis, who quickly fed Stafford for an easy tap-in.
Columbus tied it again on Calvert's fifth goal of the season at 12:44. Nikita Nikitin fired a shot from the point that Miller was able to stop with his left skate, but Calvert was on the doorstep for the rebound and put it home for a 2-2 game.
Buffalo thought it restored the lead again 24 seconds into the second period, when Ennis wristed a shot from the slot that eluded Bobrovsky. But replays concluded Moulson kicked the puck into the net, and the game remained tied.
Dubinsky gave Columbus its first lead via the power play at 11:21 of the second period. After Zenon Konopka was penalized for goalie interference, Wisniewski fired a slap shot from the left point that was denied by Miller, who then stopped Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson on rebound attempts before Dubinsky collected the loose puck in front and wristed it into the net for his 10th goal of the season.
"Every 60 minutes isn't going to be perfect, [but] the closer we can try and strive to get there, the better off we're going to be," Dubinsky said. "Six in row in the NHL is not easy to do. [Heck] of a job by the boys tonight."
Buffalo tied it on Myers' second goal in the final minute of regulation. With Savard in the box for tripping, Myers took a pass from Cody Hodgson and ripped a wrist shot from the circle past Bobrovsky to make it 3-3.
"We hung with it … we battled," Miller said. "I thought we had some good chances to score, and ultimately to come through at the end, that was good."
Columbus will play the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game homestand. The Blue Jackets can set a new franchise record with a seventh straight win.
"It's an accomplishment, but we can't be satisfied with it," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said of the six-game streak. "It's something to look at at the end of the season, something to look at years from now if it remains, or hopefully we can grow it and continue to build on it. But right now for me, it's just a stat.
"We've done a good job putting ourselves back in the fight and right in the middle of it. But really, that's all that we've done."
Material from team media was used in this report.
|Tyler Myers (5) ASST: Matt Moulson (15), Tyler Ennis (10)|
1 - 0 BUF
|David Savard (3) ASST: Derek MacKenzie (5), Mark Letestu (15)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Drew Stafford (5) ASST: Tyler Ennis (11)|
2 - 1 BUF
|Matt Calvert (5) ASST: Nikita Nikitin (11), Brandon Dubinsky (22)|
2 - 2 Tie
|PPG - Brandon Dubinsky (10) ASST: Cam Atkinson (12), James Wisniewski (24)|
3 - 2 CBJ
|PPG - Tyler Myers (6) ASST: Cody Hodgson (14), Christian Ehrhoff (17)|
3 - 3 Tie
|1||M. Moulson||C. Atkinson|
|2||T. Ennis||M. Letestu|
|3||C. Hodgson||R. Johansen|
|Power Play %||21.7%||13.4%|
|% on Road||21.5%||12.2%|
|% at Home||22.0%||14.5%|
|Tyler Myers Boarding against James Wisniewski|
|Dalton Prout Interference against Matt Moulson|
|Zenon Konopka Interference on goalkeeper against Sergei Bobrovsky|
|Nathan Horton Slashing against Tyler Myers|
|Nathan Horton Tripping against Brayden McNabb|
|David Savard Tripping against Drew Stafford|
|Christian Ehrhoff Tripping against Matt Calvert|