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Sabres solve Bobrovsky, end Blue Jackets' streak at 8

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- After enduring a five-game winless streak, the Buffalo Sabres seemed an unlikely candidate to stop the hottest team in the NHL. But outstanding goaltending by Ryan Miller, two shorthanded goals and some fortunate bounces resulted in a 5-2 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.

The Blue Jackets (26-21-4) had their team-record eight-game winning streak snapped and failed to score at least three goals for the first time in nine games.

Miller came up with several tough stops after the Sabres went ahead on a fluky goal, then withstood a constant barrage to finish with 36 saves. The Sabres blocked a season-high 30 shots among the 92 attempted by Columbus.

"You have to have a little Lady Luck on your side and you have to have strong goaltending," Buffalo coach Ted Nolan said. "Tonight was a combination of that."

Columbus hit the post twice, including with a little more than two minutes left and the score 4-2. A James Wisniewski shot bounced off several bodies in front, then was put off the pipe by Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert.

Cody Hodgson then scored into an empty net from the boards in front of the Blue Jackets bench with 51 seconds remaining for his 12th goal.

"It's disappointing. You win eight but you want to keep going," Columbus center Derek MacKenzie said. "We carried the play for the most part. We talked about getting some breaks on the other side during this eight-game winning streak. Tonight we got some bad breaks. As a result we lost."

Bobrovsky, a winner in his prior nine starts with a 1.80 goals-against average and .940 save percentage, allowed three soft goals to his glove side, two of them with Columbus on the power play, before being pulled.

"We're so used to seeing him play at a high level," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "He really has just about this whole month in the games he's been a part of. You don't expect those pucks to go in."

The second of the man-down goals came off an odd-man rush and was scored by Marcus Foligno at 3:28 of the second period for his fifth goal of the season and a 3-1 lead. Foligno's shot went off Bobrovsky's glove before trickling past him.

Bobrovsky, the 2013 Vezina Trophy winner, made seven saves before being replaced by Curtis McElhinney, who made 10.

"The feeling on the bench was that we were going to go win one for [Bobrovsky]," forward Mark Letestu said. "He's been there for us all year through thick and thin, wins and losses; he's kept us in a lot of hockey games."

Christian Ehrhoff had a goal and two assists, and Matt Ellis and Steve Ott scored for the Sabres (14-29-7), who scored at least three goals for the sixth straight game.

MacKenzie and Letestu scored for the Blue Jackets.

An Ellis goal and a late shorthanded goal by Ehrhoff gave Buffalo a 2-1 lead after one period.

Ehrhoff scored with 29.5 seconds left after miscommunication between Bobrovsky and his defensemen. Ehrhoff circled back to pick up the loose puck and fired a slap shot from the left point that hit the right post on the way in for his third goal of the season.

Ellis scored on the game's first shot at 2:21, an innocent-looking backhand from about 40 feet that eluded Bobrovsky through traffic and smacked the post before going across the line for his third goal.

"A couple of those goals had seeing eyes," Nolan said. "I'm not too sure how they got in. You get them in once in a while like that, but the whole game here tonight was Ryan Miller. He was sensational again.

"We had the No. 1 guy that we needed to play and that was Ryan Miller. When he's on, you don't see too much better goaltending anywhere."

After Ellis scored, Miller denied Cam Atkinson on a breakaway and made a pad save on the rebound try by Jack Johnson.

Miller was finally beaten at 12:53 when MacKenzie scored his fourth goal (second in as many games).

Columbus pressured in the second period but luck wasn't on its side. Hoping to cut the two-goal deficit in half, the Blue Jackets went on the power play in the final two minutes and set up Johnson for a shot from the blue line. It clanged the base of the right post and skimmed underneath Miller at the top of the crease.

Columbus used five defensemen because David Savard was ill and emergency call-up Cody Goloubef did not arrive from the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League in time.

Instead, forward Cody Bass made his Blue Jackets season debut. He was reassigned to Springfield after the game.

Wisniewski played a game-high 27 minutes, 29 seconds, and teammate Jack Johnson played 27:07.

The Sabres also had personnel issues after left wing Ville Leino missed the third period with an injury; right wing Drew Stafford was injured and played two minutes in the third. Nolan said their status for a game Monday at the Pittsburgh Penguins is uncertain.

But that didn't stop the Sabres from their second road win in regulation this season. It was the first time they scored five times in regulation and was their largest margin of victory.

"It feels nice to win," Hodgson said. "It doesn't matter who it's against, but it is a little sweeter obviously being a little bit of a spoiler."

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