POST GAME: BLUE JACKETS 3 | SABRES 1 THE RUNDOWN
FIRST NIAGARA CENTER
The way things were going early on, it would have been really easy for frustration to get the better of the Blue Jackets.
But as they did so often a year ago, they kept their work boots on and kept pushing. Eventually, it paid off in a big way.
Cam Atkinson scored his first goal of the season, a power play goal with 7:15 left in regulation, to break a 1-1 tie and give the Blue Jackets
a lead they probably deserved. Jhonas Enroth, making the start for Buffalo in his first game as their new No. 1 goaltender, was fantastic between the pipes and kept the Sabres in the game well into the third period.
BLUE JACKETS 3 | SABRES 1
The Blue Jackets also hit four goal posts in the first 25 minutes, including a point-blank rip from the slot by Scott Hartnell, and they seemed to own the puck throughout the game. It wasn't until Jack Skille scored in the second period when the Blue Jackets finally beat Enroth and really kicked it up a notch.
Skille scored a goal reminiscent of last season, barreling down the right wing and sniping one top-shelf, short side on Enroth for a 1-0 Jackets lead at 13:21. A beautiful shot, yes, but a much-needed goal to validate just how well Columbus had played to that point in the game.
“This was a total team win,” Todd Richards said post-game. "We didn't have any passengers tonight. I thought the speed of the game was good, I thought we skated (well). Once we got the puck on our stick, I thought we did some good things as far as wanting to play in the offensive zone."
At the other end, Sergei Bobrovsky did his part, finishing the night with 21 saves on 22 shots - including a handful of spectacular stops along the way. One that stands out was a dazzling glove stop on Tyler Ennis right on the door step early in the third period that kept the score tied, and a few minutes later, Atkinson scored the winner.
Ryan Johansen, playing in the season opener after arriving in Columbus on Tuesday night, made the play down low that sprung Atkinson in the slot, and he danced around a diving Sabres defender before snapping the puck past Enroth’s glove at 12:45.
"It felt great," Atkinson said. "I felt like all night, my line was creating some great chances but it seemed like (early in the game) we couldn't connect...we were getting opportunities, and you can't get hard on yourself when you're getting the opportunities."
Artem Anisimov added an insurance marker with 2:46 to play, one-timing a great pass from rookie Alexander Wennberg (his first NHL point) into the net to make it a 3-1 game.PIVOTAL MOMENT
Bobrovsky’s glove save on Ennis was a huge moment in the third period, keeping the score even at 1-1 and giving the Blue Jackets a chance to cash in on a power play of their own — and they did.THREE STARS
1) Atkinson (CBJ) - the game-winning goal, three shots and 15:38 TOI.
2) Girgensons (BUF) - scored Buffalo’s lone goal and it was a beauty.
3) Bobrovsky (CBJ - 21 saves, a few dandies, and just standard solid Bob. UP NEXT
2014-15 Home Opener
vs. New York Rangers
Saturday, 7 p.m.