The Blue Jackets (45-30-4) took care of business on Sunday night in Buffalo, winning their fifth game in eight days by taking down the listless Sabres (31-38-10) by a 4-0 score at KeyBank Center.
The win combined with Carolina's loss at Pittsburgh allowed Columbus to hop the Canes and move into seventh place in the Eastern Conference with three games remaining.
Game in a Paragraph
Columbus left little doubt in this one by taking advantage of a Sabres team well out of the playoff race. The Blue Jackets led 3-0 after one and 4-0 after two, with the only drama of the third whether Sergei Bobrovsky would earn his third shutout in the last five games. He did, finishing the game with 38 saves.
Video: Blue Jackets blank Sabres for fifth straight win
Quote of the Game
Head coach John Tortorella: "I think getting the first goal helped us right away. We just kept on plugging away, and I thought we played really well defensively. Bob had to make some key saves. It's a consistent thing we've talked about, but everyone is contributing."
- Bobrovsky's shutout was his NHL-leading ninth of the season, extending his career high. He is now one behind Steve Mason (10, 2008-09) for the franchise single-season record, and his 36 wins this season are one off the NHL lead.
- Bjorkstrand continued to be on fire, scoring for the fifth consecutive game. The 23-year-old has seven goals in the last seven games and 21 on the season.
- Dubois had a goal and a two assists, allowing him to become the sixth Blue Jacket to reach 25 tallies on the season. It was Dubois' 16th multipoint night of the year, and he had just two points in the preceding 15 games.
Columbus got off to a bit of a sluggish start, falling down in the shot count 7-1 at one point, but it was nothing three goals by the end of the period couldn't fix.
Dubois got the party started off a nice setup by Zach Werenski and Seth Jones. Off a faceoff, Werenski skated the puck behind the net and passed it out to Jones at the right point, and his shot hit Dubois' skate in front and ricocheted into the net at 7:14.
Columbus made it 2-0 just before a power play expired at 13:46. After a strong shift by the second power-play unit, Dubois picked up a puck behind the net and found Bjorkstrand alone in the high slot, and he had time to settle and fire a rocket past the glove of goalie Linus Ullmark.
The captain Nick Foligno made it 3-0 with 2:13 left in the period. After a Sabres turnover, Foligno took a pass from Ryan Dzingel and went behind the net on a wraparound attempt. Ullmark committed to the post on the far side, and Foligno put the puck toward the front of the net where it hit Brandon Montour and went into the net.
There wasn't much action in the second period but Columbus did increase its lead late in the frame with a goal by Josh Anderson. The big forward started on the rush with Dubois, took a pass from the center, got into the left circle and scored through Ullmark's legs to make it 4-0 at 15:31.
Buffalo's best scoring chance of the game came late in the second as Jack Eichel took an errant shot off the backboards and had a largely open net, but Bobrovsky sprawled to his left and the shot went off his mask and caromed away.
Video: CBJ@BUF: Bobrovsky sprawls, uses mask to deny Eichel
Werenski took an elbow up high on the first shift of the third period and went back to the room, but he would return. Bobrovsky shut the door down the stretch as well, finishing the shutout with a nice close-in stop on Sam Reinhart late.
By the Numbers
With 45 wins, Columbus has tied the second most victories in franchise history. The Jackets also had 45 wins last year after capturing 50 games two seasons ago. … Columbus has scored four-plus goals in 37 games this year and is one goal away from tying the franchise record of 247 (2016-17) for a season. … Columbus won its third straight on the road and is now 23-14-2 away from home. … The Blue Jackets have killed 85 of the last 93 opposing power plays after going 1-for-1 on the kill vs. Buffalo. … With his two-assist night, Dzingel has a 3-8-11 line in 18 games with Columbus. … Anderson and Werenski each finished plus-4. … Foligno had a goal and an assist for his first multi-point night since scoring two goals Jan. 13 vs. the Rangers. … Bobrovsky has given up 14 goals in his last 11 starts. … Columbus won the season series vs. Buffalo 2-1 for the fifth time in six years.
Columbus made no changes to the lineup from Saturday night's win at Nashville. Scratches were forwards Markus Hannikainen, Lukas Sedlak and Eric Robinson; defensemen McQuaid and Adam Clendening; and goaltenders Keith Kinkaid and Elvis Merzlikins.
The Blue Jackets return home for the final regular season home game of the year, hosting Boston at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Nationwide Arena.