It took them almost a full period of what coach John Tortorella termed a "slop fest," but the Blue Jackets eventually heated up in a hurry Wednesday night.
After not playing in three days, the Jackets scored three times in the second period against the Buffalo Sabres - one for each day between games - and cruised to a 5-1 victory in front of 14,383 at Nationwide Arena.
The win ended a two-game losing skid for the Blue Jackets (6-3-0), who tied a franchise high with 12 points after nine games.
"I didn't think our first period was as good as I would've liked to see it, but we found a way to [make] it 1-0, got some timely goals in the second and were able to keep that going in the third," said Jackets captain Nick Foligno, who scored his third goal of the season. "That's a big bounce-back win for us."
Oliver Bjorkstrand scored a power-play goal at 12:00 of the first period for Columbus, which then got goals from Seth Jones, Foligno and Matt Calvert in a 2:59 span, the fastest the Jackets have scored three goals this season.
Columbus led 4-0 after 40 minutes, and had no problem protecting its lead in the third, despite allowing Seth Griffith to score at 17:26 for Buffalo's lone goal.
Josh Anderson scored with 39 seconds remaining to complete the scoring.
Almost lost in the scoring outburst for Columbus was the play of goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who made 34 saves. Among those stops was a key save at 7:19 of the second period, when Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly got a breakaway after a Jackets turnover.
"It's a huge play," Tortorella said. "Who knows where it goes, with the way we were playing. We're very fortunate to win the game. Having said that, it's about trying to find ways to win, but that was a real sloppy game."
Columbus cleaned things up eight minutes later, after Tortorella's line juggling resulted in more puck possession and scoring chances. The Jackets scored their trio of goals against Sabres goalie Chad Johnson, who came into the game 5-1-0 with a 1.81 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in six career starts against them.
Jones finished with two points (goal and assist) to lead 13 Blue Jackets who recorded at least a point, and capped an odd-man rush on his goal at 15:20 of the second to make it 2-0.
Trailing the play, Jones scooted into position for a one-timer and then stepped into it after getting a feed from Brandon Dubinsky.
Foligno made it 3-0 just 2:18 later, when Jack Johnson's shot deflected off him into the net. Calvert pushed it to 4-0 at 18:19 by tapping in the rebound of a slap shot from the point by Markus Nutivaara, which trickled through Johnson's pads and stopped in the blue paint.
It was the fourth time this season the Blue Jackets have scored three goals in a period. They also did it in their season-opener Oct. 6 against the New York Islanders, in a 5-2 road win Oct. 17 against the Winnipeg Jets and in a 2-0 loss against the Los Angeles Kings this past Saturday - the last time they'd played.
"Every line scored a goal tonight," Foligno said. "We got a big power-play goal from our second unit, so I think that just starts the ball rolling for everybody to jump in and contribute. We'd like to clean some things up, and we will, but after two losses, to come back and get a big win like that, I was really proud of the guys."
News and Notes
UNSUNG EFFORT: Boone Jenner didn't finish with a point, but the veteran forward played a big role in each of the Jackets' first two goals. He screened Johnson on Bjorkstrand's power-play goal in the first period, then made two good plays on Jones' goal in the second. He started the rush with a nice exit pass from the defensive zone, then skated down and got in front of Johnson again for Jones' one-timer. Jenner has made an impact after missing the entire preseason and first seven games with a middle-body injury.
"We put him on the power play tonight, [and] he does his job there," Tortorella said. "He's killing penalties. He's come right in, and for a guy that's missed so much time, the weeks that he's missed, he's come right in and been put in all the situations and succeeded. He's been one of our top players. In two games he's played, he's been one of our best players in all situations."
LINE BLENDER: Tortorella started the game with new line combinations, and then jumbled them all up throughout the first 30 minutes of the game. Eventually, he settled on a configuration that made him happy, and they helped the Jackets score those three goals late in the second.
Artemi Panarin, Foligno and Anderson comprised the top line. Jenner, Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson were the second line. Calvert, Wennberg and Bjorkstrand made up the third line. Sonny Milano, Zac Dalpe and Pierre-Luc Dubois rounded out the forwards as the fourth group.
"Oh, I found some lines," Tortorella said. "I found some lines tonight. By the third time I changed them, yeah, I found some lines. You can get criticized for changing lines. I'm not going to sit there and watch us play and watch lines struggle to make plays or over-pass, or a number of different things that go on. I found some lines, though, tonight. That second half of that game, I liked what I saw, at least on three of the lines."
LETTER SWITCH: Dubinsky and defenseman Jack Johnson were both on the ice to start the game, but it didn't take long to notice Johnson, not Dubinsky, who wore the alternate captain's 'A' on his sweater. Tortorella said the switch was made this week to allow Dubinsky to focus more on his game, and was not related to his missing practice Monday for personal reasons.
"He played better tonight," Tortorella said. "He's had a struggle. He's struggled this year. Trying to take some pressure off him. [Johnson] being part of our leadership group, we wanted [Dubinsky] to concentrate on just his play. We put an 'A' on Jack, just to try and let 'Duby' work himself through, and get his game straightened out. I thought it was one of his better games."
QUOTEABLE: "No, it was a slop fest. That's what it was. All over. If 'Bob' didn't play the way he did in the first period, we could've been reversed a little bit. I don't think we were bad. We score the goal, and from there in the first period, we did nothing right and nothing with workmanlike attitude. Nothing." - Tortorella
ADDITIONAL NOTES: Wennberg's secondary assist on Anderson's goal was his 100th assist in the NHL. … The Blue Jackets killed off Buffalo's only power play, and improved to 10-for-10 killing penalties on home ice this season. ... Nine Blue Jackets players took faceoffs, combining to win 34 of 74 draws for a 46 percent success rate. Foligno (69 percent, 11-of-16) and Wennberg (80 percent, 4-of-5) led the way.
(All times ET)
Sabres: Host the San Jose Sharks on Saturday (1 p.m., SN, MSG-B, NBCSCA, NHL.TV)
Blue Jackets: Host the Winnipeg Jets on Friday (7 p.m., FS-O, Fox Sports Go, TSN3)