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FINAL: Sabres 4, Blue Jackets 3 (OT)

Nutivaara gets late goal to push game to OT and give CBJ points in 26 of 29 games

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /

The Blue Jackets lost a 4-3 game in overtime at Buffalo on Thursday night at the KeyBank Center.  

Game in a Paragraph 

Columbus built a 2-0 lead in the opening 22 minutes, but Buffalo erased it by scoring three in a row. Markus Nutivaara's goal with 1:13 to play tied things and got the Blue Jackets a point, but Victor Olofsson scored in overtime to give the Sabres the win. 

Video: CBJ Recap: Blue Jackets lose to Sabres in OT, 4-3

Quote of the Game

CBJ forward Nathan Gerbe: "It's an important point, but we lost an important point, too. That one stings. We know we have to get better at those and win those games."

CBJ Notables 

  • Gerbe scored against his former team, netting his fourth goal of the season and first since Jan. 7. 
  • Liam Foudy earned his first career NHL point with an assist in his second career game. 
  • Boone Jenner scored his 10th goal of the season and won 13 of 24 faceoffs. 

Quick Recap 

There were some good chances each way in the early going, as Vladislav Gavrikov missed an open net on a rebound three minutes into the game on the CBJ side. Jeff Skinner also had a good look in front but was denied by CBJ goalie Matiss Kivlenieks as the Sabres had the puck a lot early. 

But there was just one goal in the frame, and it was scored by the Blue Jackets with 27.7 seconds to play. It came in transition, as Riley Nash and Gavrikov had a 2-on-1, with the former feeding the latter at the left post. But Buffalo goalie Carter Hutton caught an edge as he moved over and fell down, and Gavrikov alertly dropped the puck to the trailing Gerbe for a slam dunk finish into the open net to make it 1-0. 

Columbus didn't waste much time in the second period adding to the lead as Jenner tallied1:31 into the period. It completed a long shift in the Blue Jackets' offensive zone, as Foudy claimed the puck and fed it back to Zach Werenski at the left point, and his long shot was tipped by Hutton by Jenner from in front of the net. 

The Blue Jackets held the two-goal lead for most of the period but Buffalo got one back with 1:13 left in the frame. Jack Eichel netted his 32nd goal of the season, carting the puck up the ice from the defensive zone and beating Kivlenieks clean over the glove with a wrist shot as he hit the hashmarks to make it 2-1.  

The Sabres then knotted the score just 2:10 into the third on a power play. In his first game back from injury, Olofsson took a cross-ice feed and one-timed a shot past Kivlenieks from the right faceoff dot to make it a 2-2 game.  

The rookie Latvian made a huge save shortly thereafter to keep it a tie game as Conor Sheary got behind the CBJ defense but his shot was turned aside by Kivlenieks. With 10:18 to go, then, it was the Blue Jackets' turn to have a breakaway but not score, as Sonny Milano skated in alone but hit the crossbar with a backhander.  

Then with 4:26 to go, Buffalo took the lead for the first time with a goal by Evan Rodrigues. Gavrikov pinched and it led to a transition rush for the Sabres, and Rodrigues deked into the slot and beat Kivlenieks to the blocker to make it a 3-2 game. 

But the Blue Jackets were not done. Kivlenieks was pulled for the extra attacker with around two minutes to go, and the Blue Jackets tied it with 73 seconds left on the clock. Oliver Bjorkstrand found Nutivaara back door and the CBJ defenseman tipped the puck home to make it a 3-3 game. 

That led to overtime, and after a number of chances each way, Eichel dropped a pass for Olofsson and he scored from the left circle to give Buffalo the win. 

3 Takeaways

1. There was one play that left head coach Tortorella most upset, and it was the odd-man rush that allowed the Sabres to make it a 2-1 game late in the second period. The top line of Bjorkstrand, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Nick Foligno was on the ice for a 3-on-2 that Eichel converted with a perfect shot past Kivlenieks after he skated the puck the length of the ice. "The play at the end of the second period, it's just stupid," Tortorella said. "Three forwards -- it's just stupid. That gives them life. They're dead in the water after two periods if we're up 2-0." That was a momentum turner, as was giving the Sabres a power play early in the third that led to the tying goal. Those are the little things that can turn games, and it did so on this night. 

2. On the other side of the spectrum was Foudy, whose play has clearly impressed the head coach. The 20-year-old rookie in just his second NHL game played 18:03 and earned his first point, but his earning of the trust of the coaching staff was likely more rewarding. "We're gonna miss him," Tortorella said of Foudy, who must return to London of the OHL on Friday. "I really like the way he plays. We'll miss him in our lineup. He played better tonight than some of our veteran guys." Foudy had a bit of a welcome to the NHL moment when he was tasked with defending Eichel in overtime, but all in all he was happy to get another chance to play in the big leagues, especially with his parents and a number of friends in attendance. "This game was a lot more comfortable," Foudy said. "I felt a lot more at ease tonight. It feels good to get that first point."

3. Losing a 2-0 lead was not what the Blue Jackets wanted, but the team also avoided the worst possible fate of leaving without a point thanks to Nutivaara's late goal. Columbus had seven rookies in the lineup for the second straight night, and while no one is feeling sorry for the team with nine players on the injury list at the moment, the Blue Jackets did at least find a way to salvage a result that gave the team points in 26 of 29 games (19-3-7). "I'm glad we found a way to get a point," Tortorella said, and Columbus now gets a chance to get right back at it Friday at home against the Rangers. 


Kivlenieks finished with 23 saves and has a point in all three of his starts (1-0-2). ... Gerbe's point was his first since Jan. 18, while Nash got on the scoresheet for the first time since Jan. 14. … Jenner has a 2-1-3 line in his last four games. ... Bjorkstrand has an 11-4-15 scoring line in his last 13 games. … The Blue Jackets played their NHL-most 36th one-goal game (18-7-11). ... Columbus has lost three goals in a row for the first time since a four-game losing streak in early December. ... Columbus ran its point streak against Eastern Conference foes (14-0-6) to 20 games. … All three games between the teams this season went to overtime, with Buffalo winning two. ... Columbus has points in eight of the last 10 games with Buffalo (6-2-2). ... The rare goalie point occurred as Hutton got his first assist of the year on the Rodrigues goal.  

Roster Report 

The Blue Jackets made no changes to the 18-skater lineup from Monday night, calling up Foudy from OHL London to return to the lineup. Scratches were Cam Atkinson (injury), defenseman Gabriel Carlsson and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo (injury). 

Up Next 

The Blue Jackets return to Columbus for the second game of a back-to-back as they host the New York Rangers on Friday night in Nationwide Arena.  

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