In the Blue Jackets’ penultimate game of the 2015-16 season, there were several positive takeaways from their 4-1 win tonight over the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center.
For the first time in franchise history, the Blue Jackets have two 30-goal scorers in the same season: Brandon Saad and Boone Jenner.
“I didn’t know. Actually someone came and told me after it happened, and it’s exciting,” Saad said of hitting the milestone. “I know when Boone got it, it’s an exciting moment for him and to get that and then create the history here for the franchise, it’s definitely something I’ll remember forever.”
In the NHL, there are currently just 23 players with 30 goals, and now the Blue Jackets have two of them. Saad netted his 30th of the season at 5:11 of the third period, putting the Jackets ahead by three goals in the final frame.
“He’s a dangerous guy,” Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella said of Saad. “He’s a big part of our future. He’s a huge part of our team and, although we’re done after tomorrow, it’s nice for those guys to have those types of milestones and we expect more of it when we get going next year.”
Additionally, 20-year-old Oliver Bjorkstrand, who has been playing on a line with Alexander Wennberg and Saad, picked up an assist Saad’s goal, giving him points in four straight games.
Tonight, everyone contributed — both offensively and defensively.
Matt Calvert opened the scoring with his 10th goal of the season, and first on the power play, when he beat rookie goaltender Jason Kasdorf (who made his NHL debut tonight) with a far-side snipe at 18:45 of the first period.
In the second period, Sam Reinhart redirected a shot over Joonas Korpisalo's shoulder just as a Sabres' 5-on-3 turned into a 5-on-4, tying the game 1-1 at 13:37.
But just 1:39 later, Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno scored the go-ahead goal.
Josh Anderson kick-started the play when he made a big hit and knocked the puck loose. Jenner retrieved the puck and found Foligno, who scored his 12th goal of the season at 15:16 of the frame.
And just 2:09 later, Dalton Prout joined the rush and finished a drop pass from William Karlsson to give the visitors a 3-1 lead at 17:25 of the frame.
In net for the Blue Jackets, Korpisalo recorded his 16th win in his 31st game of the season.
“One of my objectives for this game was to just enjoy it and get the win and play good,” Korpisalo said. “That was a great game from the team today.”
Korpisalo made 34 saves tonight in what was likely his last NHL game of the season. Tortorella said Korpisalo will be sent down to Cleveland’s Lake Erie Monsters, the Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate, to assist the Monsters in their playoff run following Saturday's finale in Columbus.
“I hope everybody remembers the feeling of being in this situation when other teams are just getting ramped up to play the real stuff,” Tortorella said. “But I think our team has handled themselves well enough here, they’ve played hard, and to win games, that’s what you do. That’s what you’re supposed to be doing is winning hockey games, so I’m happy for them in a pretty crappy situation.”