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Eichel's goal paces Sabres win against Blue Jackets

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres got their first win of the season and a few of their recent additions provided the most help.

Jack Eichel's goal 9:21 into the third period helped gave the Sabres a 4-2 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets at First Niagara Center on Monday.

Eichel's goal was his second of the season, Ryan O'Reilly scored his first with the Sabres and Jamie McGinn had his first two assists with Buffalo. The win was the Sabres' first of the season (1-2-0) and for coach Dan Bylsma with Buffalo.

"I thought we earned the win," Bylsma said. "I thought we earned it with the way we played. We didn't give them much. They had to battle for every inch. ... I think we gave them a lot to handle."

Eichel gave the Sabres a 3-1 lead with his second goal of the season. He picked up a loose puck near the blue line in the Columbus zone let go a wrist shot from the left circle that beat goalie Sergei Bobrovsky up high.

"You're looking at one of the best goalies in the League in Bobrovsky right there," Bylsma said. "We'll see that goal again; we'll see it replayed again, just all of it: The track back, the stealing of the puck and winning the battle and creating space and then the shot from an improbable angle right at the corner of the net. It's a pretty remarkable goal."

Eichel scored from a similar angle in the Sabres' season-opening 3-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

"He was a little overcommitted to the short side, so I kind of let it ride and it was good to see it go in," Eichel said. "Couple other times I've tried to let them ride from that side and I've snapped my stick. Pretty happy that I got a new stick between periods and it did me well."

Blue Jackets forward Scott Hartnell made it 3-2 when he scored a power-play goal with 6:47 left in the third period. Hartnell received Ryan Johansen's pass from behind the net and shot the puck past Sabres goalie Chad Johnson.

Johnson made 20 saves and earned his first win as a member of the Sabres after he was acquired on March 2 in a trade with the New York Islanders.

"It was tough last year not being able to come in and play and try to help this team be better," Johnson said. "It feels good knowing that hard work is showing and getting results. I played well in preseason, just didn't get results. Last game (a 4-1 loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday) too."

Matt Moulson added a power-play goal with 4:13 left in the third for the margin of victory, one of his three points in the game. The Sabres went 3-for-7 on the power play and it's the first time since the 2012-2013 season opener on Jan. 20, 2013 against the Philadelphia Flyers they scored three power-play goals.

"In sports, it's never really rainbows and butterflies," Johansen said. "Our mistakes were obvious tonight. It's not like we're going to the drawing board and not knowing what's wrong. We're taking offensive zone penalties; we're giving them way too many scoring chances. Obviously they had a lot of power plays, but then again, give them a little bit of credit; I thought they played a great game tonight. I thought they played really hard, their goalie played well, and they had their opportunities and capitalized."

Rasmus Ristolainen's power-play goal gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead 2:33 into the second period. With Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno in the penalty box for holding, Sabres forward Evander Kane passed across the zone to Marcus Foligno, who passed to Ristolainen at the blue line. Ristolainen's slap shot beat Bobrovsky on his blocker side. Foligno took three minor penalties and two led to power-play goals for Buffalo.

"It's extremely disappointing," Foligno said. "It's unacceptable really. It's a word one of our guys used in the room between periods. The way we're playing right now, the second period especially, is just unacceptable. It's disappointing because we talked before the season what we had to do and we're not doing it, so I don't know what the reason is for it.

"I'm disappointed in myself and those three penalties, one was to prevent a goal but the other two are just discipline. It's all those things and it's got to start from the top and work its way through and right now it's not."

O'Reilly's first goal made it 2-0. With Foligno in the penalty box for tripping, Jamie McGinn found Moulson in the slot. Moulson passed to a wide open O'Reilly, whose slap shot that beat Bobrovsky over his right shoulder.

"Hopefully it's the first of many," O'Reilly said. "I thought just a great job moving the puck there. We were getting a little frustrated, didn't get one early, our unit."

The assist was McGinn's first point with the Sabres and he had another on Eichel’s goal in the third. O'Reilly and McGinn were acquired from the Colorado Avalanche in a trade on June 26.

"We came out strong, but we stuck with it," O'Reilly said. "We're kind of even-keeled; weren't too high, weren't too low, stayed like that the entire game and got some good bounces."

Blue Jackets forward Brandon Saad cut the lead to 2-1 with his second goal of the season when he put a rebound of Foligno's shot past Johnson, who was sprawled out after he stopped Foligno's attempt.

Bobrovsky made 29 saves. The Blue Jackets (0-3-0) have allowed 13 goals in their first three games.

"Well, for me this one's concerning, the way we performed," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "Because three games in, playing a desperate team on the road, I was expecting something else than this.

"Right now, I'm just disappointed. The other games, I thought we did some things that you can build off your game. There wasn't a lot accomplished in tonight's game."

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