The Blue Jackets were rejuvenated coming off their first victory of the season two nights ago. They wanted to put the first eight games in the past and start the next 74 games on a new note.
Despite firing 43 shots against Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth and drawing six power play opportunities, the Blue Jackets found themselves on the wrong end of a 4-2 decision at First Niagara Center. Vinny Prospal and Fedor Tyutin each scored good-looking goals for the Blue Jackets, who started “on time” as coaches say and brought heavy pressure on the first three shifts of the game.
Buffalo did score the first goal of the game to nullify that momentum. Brad Boyes snuck down to the left circle with the Sabres on the power play, and got just enough of a one-timer to bounce it behind Steve Mason for 1-0 lead. Still, even in giving up the first goal, the Blue Jackets kept pushing and nearly tied it up late in the opening period.
The Sabres made it a 2-0 game at the 4:51 mark of the second period thanks to Jason Pominville’s first of two goals on the night. He took a nice feed from Thomas Vanek and chipped it by Mason for his third goal of the season.
Columbus turned it up another notch after the midway point of the hockey game. The top line of Rick Nash, Derick Brassard and Prospal had a handful of quality chances including a 2-on-1 that was turned away by a nice save from Enroth. At the end of a shift, Antoine Vermette got the puck ahead to Prospal, who crossed the blue line and ripped a laser beam over Enroth’s blocker. It was a tangible result for their hard work and the Blue Jackets were back in the game.
Tyutin’s goal came from sheer persistence – after the puck entered the Sabres zone and a centering pass was broken up by a Buffalo defender, the puck laid right in the slot and Tyutin one-handed it over Enroth to tie the game.
Buffalo got the lead back with 5:52 remaining in regulation on Patrick Kaleta’s first goal of the season. Pominville’s second goal was a power-play goal at the 17:36 mark to give Buffalo a 4-2 lead.
Tyutin’s goal was the perfect remedy for the Blue Jackets, who poured it on in an effort to draw even. Kaleta scoring the go-ahead tally less than four minutes later was the turning point in the game, and it seemed to deflate Columbus. It was a long shift for the Blue Jackets, who got caught out there on an extended basis after a failed clearing attempt in their own zone.
Christian Ehrhoff kept the play alive at the point, and Nathan Gerbe made a behind-the-back pass that slid all the way to the opposite face-off circle. Kaleta was waiting on the backhand, and was able to shovel it into the goal.
- Coach Scott Arniel made it clear to his club: get the puck on net and force Enroth to make difficult saves. The Blue Jackets had 43 shots on goal tonight, falling two short of the club road record for shots on goal in game. James Wisniewski, Vermette, Tyutin and Nash all tied for tops on the club with five shots each tonight.
-Columbus is now 7-5-1 all-time against Buffalo, including a 4-4-0 mark at First Niagara Center.
-Instant offense? Look no further than Prospal, the Blue Jackets’ leading scorer through the first 10 games of the season. Prospal has points in seven of 10 games this season after scoring his fourth goal (team-high) in the second period. He has 4-5-9 to open the season, and in 51 career games against the Sabres, he has recorded 13-18-31.
-Nash’s first shot of tonight’s game was the 2,000th of his NHL career. The Blue Jackets’ captain is the franchise’s all-time leader in shots on goal (2,004 total).
-Tyutin and Wisniewski are undoubtedly the No. 1 defense pair for Arniel, and they are certainly carrying the mail on the back end. “The Wiz” led all players with 27:55 tonight, and his five shots on goal may have been one more if not for a boisterous clang of the goal post in the first period. Tyutin played 26:58 (also with five shots), scored the game-tying goal and logged 5:45 TOI on the power play.
-R.J. Umberger is starting to heat up, and that’s great news for the Blue Jackets. Umberger has points in consecutive game games after registering an assist on Prospal’s goal. He notched his first points of the season with a goal and assist on Tuesday against Detroit. He has collected 5-5-10 in 17 career games against the Sabres.
Thursday, 8:30 p.m.
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