The Blue Jackets returned to the friendly confines of Nationwide Arena and earned their first win of the season, downing the Buffalo Sabres by a 4-3 score in overtime on Monday night on Alexandre Texier's goal.
Game in a Paragraph
Columbus held a 2-0 advantage after the first period, taking the lead for the first time this season with a pair of goals in the final two minutes of the frame. Buffalo countered to tie the score at 2 after two periods, but Nick Foligno's goal 6:46 into the third gave Columbus the lead until Buffalo tied the score with an empty-net goal. In overtime, Texier buried the game-winner 2:08 into the extra frame. Joonas Korpisalo got the win as Columbus held a 44-18 edge in shots on goal.
Quote of the Game
Oliver Bjorkstrand: "I just think we stuck with it. We had the mind-set that we weren't going to let up, we weren't going to panic. It's just another hockey game, and sometimes teams come back and tie it up. We just stuck with it, and that's the mind-set we have to have. You can't get too down on yourself when they tie it up. We just stuck with it and kept going."
- Cam Atkinson scored his second goal of the year for Columbus and now has five goals in his last seven games vs. the Sabres.
- Skating in his 200th career game, Bjorkstrand scored his first goal of the season. He also added an assist.
- Foligno tallied a power-play goal in the third period and assisted on Texier's winner.
Columbus had a strong first period and got the payoff with a pair of goals in the final 1:51 of the frame. It was Bjorkstrand who got on the board first, as Seth Jones' shot from the right point deflected wide of the net but came out hot off the back boards to low on the left, and Bjorkstrand was Johnny on the spot to fire the puck off Buffalo goalie Linus Ullmark and into the net.
Less than a minute later, with 54.6 seconds left in the period, Columbus doubled the advantage with a power-play goal. Just 10 seconds into the man advantage with Henri Jokiharju in the box for tripping, Alexander Wennberg passed it out from behind the net to Atkinson in the low right circle, and his one-timer beat Ullmark to the far side.
Video: Condensed Game: Sabres @ Blue Jackets
Earlier in the frame, Korpisalo had made an excellent save on a Buffalo 2-on-1. Jack Eichel had time and tried to feed it across to Sam Reinhart, but a hard backcheck by Seth Jones prevented a clean look by Reinhart; however, the puck popped up into the air and Korpisalo at full extension was able to get his glove on it to keep it a scoreless game.
But Buffalo was able to claw back into the game with a pair of tallies in the second period that knotted the game at 2. It took just 1:32 into the period for the Sabres to make it 2-1 on the power play, as a cross-ice feed from Colin Miller to Marcus Johansson allowed the latter to drill a one-timer past a helpless Korpisalo from the right circle.
The Sabres tied it at 11:58 of the second on an unassisted goal by Jeff Skinner. Ryan Murray tried to make a pass out of the zone, but Skinner was behind him and picked his pocket, then turned around and fired past Korpisalo's blocker from close range.
But Columbus dominated the early throes of the third period, with Foligno drawing a penalty on Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin and then converting with his own power-play goal. The original shot came off the stick of Bjorkstrand, and the rebound pinballed to Foligno for the captain to bury from close range at 6:46 of the frame.
Buffalo pulled Ullmark for an empty net with 2:32 to go, and Boone Jenner went off for a faceoff violation with 2:26 left. Then with 1:14 to go, Victor Oloffsson's drive from the right circle with the Sabres skating 6-on-4 went in, making it 3-3.
In overtime, Texier won it at 2:08, as Foligno forced a turnover in deep and fed the young Frenchman cutting to the net, and he made no mistake with his finish past Ullmark's blocker.
1. Patience wins: There were times Columbus could have folded in this game; for example, when Buffalo scored twice in the second period to tie the score despite being massively outshot, or after Olofsson's tying goal in the final two minutes. But the Blue Jackets stuck with the game plan throughout, expanding its lead in the shot (and shot attempt) count throughout the night and never forcing the issue. The defensive breakdowns that marked the loss to Pittsburgh were cleaned up. "It was a really good test for us as far as staying within ourselves and not trying to do too much," head coach John Tortorella said. "I thought we did a good job."
2. Oh captain: Foligno's contribution to the cause can't be overlooked. The raw stats are solid -- a 1-1-2 line, three shots on goal, four hits and going 4-2 on draws. But it's also the little things that don't stand out on the score sheet, such as his work in front of the net to draw the penalty that led to his power-play goal, as well as his theft of the puck from Buffalo captain Eichel along the wall in overtime before feeding Texier for the winner. It was an impressive outing for Foligno when his team needed it.
3. Youth is served: It was a big night for the CBJ 20-year-olds in Texier and Emil Bemstrom. Tortorella said Texier was probably the team's best and consistent forward all night, as he skated 18:08 and added a plus-2 rating in addition to his winning goal. Bemstrom, meanwhile, got his first career point on Foligno's power-play goal in the third, and he looked comfortable moving up to play on a line with Foligno and Jenner with Josh Anderson sidelined with an injury. "I've been looking for a way to try to get him into offensive situations," Tortorella said. "This gives us an opportunity."
Bjorkstrand is now one point from 100 in his career (44-55-99) and became the seventh player from Denmark to play in 200 career NHL games. … Buffalo entered the game 4-of-6 on the power play and went 2-for-4 vs. Columbus. ... The Blue Jackets went 2-for-3 on the power play, scoring multiple times on the man advantage for the first time this year. Columbus did so five times a season ago. ... The Blue Jackets were 10-4 in overtime/shootouts a season ago. ... Columbus is 8-3 in its last 11 games vs. the Sabres. ... The Blue Jackets' 44 shots were their most since Mar. 8, 2018, vs. Colorado.
The Blue Jackets made two changes to the lineup, with forward Sonny Milano making his season debut and defenseman Markus Nutivaara going in. Anderson (upper-body injury; day-to-day) and defenseman Dean Kukan came out.
Columbus will return to Nationwide Arena on Friday night to take on Anaheim at 7 p.m., kicking off a back-to-back weekend that ends Saturday at Carolina.