COLUMBUS -- The Columbus Blue Jackets moved into second place in the Metropolitan Division with a 3-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday.
Columbus (49-19-7) has 105 points, two more than the Pittsburgh Penguins, with seven games left.
The Blue Jackets are three points behind the Washington Capitals for first place in the division. The Capitals defeated the Minnesota Wild 5-4 in overtime on Tuesday.
WATCH: All Sabres vs. Blue Jackets highlights
"These winning by one goal games are huge, especially down the stretch," Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson said. "Playing defense is the most important thing. It's been a good challenge for us. A lot of guys have been put in situations to see what they can do and everyone's stepped up to the plate."
Buffalo (32-33-12) failed to win its third straight game.
Kyle Quincey and Atkinson scored in the first period and Brandon Saad scored into an empty net with 1:05 remaining for Columbus.
Video: BUF@CBJ: Quincey hammers a slap shot past Nilsson
Sergei Bobrovsky made 39 saves for his 41st win. He is 10-0-2 in his past 12 games.
"We didn't play hard enough in front of him," Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly said. "He's a good goalie. If you give him sight, he's going to make a lot of saves."
Evan Rodrigues got the Sabres within one when he scored a power-play goal at 10:53 of the second period to make it 2-1.
The Sabres outshot the Blue Jackets 15-11 in the first period but could not score on Bobrovsky, who stopped William Carrier 4:50 into the game after he skated around Zach Werenski.
Columbus scored on its next two shots.
Video: BUF@CBJ: Bobrovsky stops Carrier on the doorstep
Quincey scored his first goal in 13 games with the Blue Jackets at 14:47 for a 1-0 lead. Quincey was acquired from the New Jersey Devils on March 1.
Atkinson made it 2-0 when he took a pass from Seth Jones and beat Anders Nilsson at 17:48 of the first period.
Rodrigues scored when he took a cross-ice pass from O'Reilly and beat Bobrovsky for his fourth of the season.
The goal ended Bobrovsky's shutout streak at 109:14.
Nilsson made 26 saves.
Goal of the game
Atkinson took advantage of an opening when Jones drew two defenders to him and put a shot underneath the bar for his 34th goal of the season.
Video: BUF@CBJ: Atkinson finishes Jones' dish top shelf
Save of the game
Bobrovsky preserved the Blue Jackets' 2-1 lead when Evander Kane cut across and got a shot on net with 2:15 remaining.
Video: BUF@CBJ: Bobrovsky turns aside Kane's chance
Unsung performance of the game
Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard made two big plays within seconds of each other with less than 13 minutes remaining. He stopped a 2-on-1 between Jack Eichel and Kane by sliding to block Eichel's pass attempt, then poke-checked the puck off O'Reilly's stick after he skated past everyone on the Sabres' next shift.
Highlight of the game
O'Reilly had better luck with a pass to Rodrigues for a goal that illustrated why Buffalo's puck movement makes it the most potent power play in the NHL. "I saw him see me, so I kind of was cocked and ready because I knew if I was open he would make that play," Rodrigues said.
Video: BUF@CBJ: Rodrigues finishes O'Reilly's pass for PPG
They said it
"It's really evident when our power play doesn't work the next few shifts, it's a struggle. We're struggling. Our top guys are struggling to make a play." -- Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella
"We didn't give them a lot of scoring chances. They're obviously a very skilled team and have a lot of good guys. We did a pretty good shutting them down the whole game. Quite honestly, we were the better team. We deserved to win, but Bobrovsky played great for them." -- Sabres goalie Anders Nilsson
"We gave up a lot more shots than we wanted to, but they played hard. We stopped being aggressive when they gained momentum instead of attacking them still." -- Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones
Need to know
Sabres center Sam Reinhart was on the bench but did not take a shift because of disciplinary reasons. "Earlier in the day, Sam Reinhart violated a team policy," coach Dan Bylsma said. "The discipline was not playing in tonight's game. We'll move forward from here. Disappointing. It happened. We dealt with it and we're going to move on from here. We're a part of the team and we do things as a team. That's hopefully the lesson." … Sabres right wing Kyle Okposo was scratched because of an illness. He had played the previous two games after missing 10 games with a rib injury. … Blue Jackets right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand (upper body) missed his third straight game and coach John Tortorella indicated he might not return until the Stanley Cup Playoffs. … The Blue Jackets were 0-for-3 on the power play and have 11 goals in their past 93 opportunities.
Sabres: Host the New York Islanders on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; SN, MSG-B, MSG+, NHL.TV)
Blue Jackets: At the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; FS-CR, FS-O, NHL.TV)
Video: Bobrovsky propels Jackets past Sabres, 3-1