COLUMBUS – The Buffalo Sabres were severely out-chanced Saturday night, but they were able to hold off one of the hottest teams in the National Hockey League.
Christian Ehrhoff and Marcus Foligno each scored shorthanded goals as the Sabres snapped the Columbus Blue Jackets’ eight-game winning streak, winning 5-2 at Nationwide Arena.
Matt Ellis, Steve Ott and Cody Hodgson also scored for Buffalo.
The Blue Jackets outshot the Sabres 38-22, but missed 24 other attempts and had another 30 shots blocked. Buffalo, meanwhile, attempted only 32 total shots.
Ehrhoff and Foligno’s tallies came with the Sabres shorthanded.
Buffalo scored two short-handed goals in the same game for the first time since March 30, 2007 when Derek Roy and Chris Drury both scored while on the penalty kill against the New York Islanders.
“It feels good. It feels good to be the spoiler,” Foligno said. “The odds were against us. They were on a roll and they’re a team that was playing pretty well. Even their power play was playing pretty well too and that we got the two penalty-kill goals was great.”
Ryan Miller made 36 saves, bouncing back from an 18-save performance in his last start that he wasn’t pleased with. This season, Miller has posted a .926 save percentage and a 2.62 goals against average in 35 games.
“The whole game here tonight was Ryan Miller. I thought he was sensational again,” Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said. “We had some luck on our side tonight. The puck went in enough to win.”
With his goal, Ehrhoff became the 25th active defenseman with at least 300 career points. His three points on the night also tied a career-high.
The Sabres have now scored at least three goals in six straight games for the first time since March 19 to April 3, 2012, a stretch of eight games.
Derek MacKenzie and Mark Letestu were Columbus’ goal scorers. Sergei Bobrovsky allowed three goals on 10 shots and was pulled in favor of Curtis McElhinney after Foligno’s goal.
In addition to scoring twice, the penalty killers shut the Blue Jackets power play down. Columbus had only one shot on four power-play opportunities.
“Good reads and I thought we’ve done a pretty good job on faceoffs,” Miller said. “Either they’re scrambled, they’re not quite getting quite the jump they want off it and spreading the puck too early. We’re in position and we’re able to get out there and push and pressure.”
Ellis gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead 2:21 into the game with his third goal of the season. He lifted a backhand from inside the blue line that rang down off the crossbar and over the goal line.
The Blue Jackets tied it with 7:07 remaining in the first when MacKenzie accepted a cross-ice pass from Ryan Murray and beat Miller on his glove side.
The Sabres scored their first shorthanded goal of the night to take a 2-1 lead with 29.5 seconds left in the opening period. Ehrhoff ripped a slap shot from the left point that wound up in the top right corner of the net.
“It went straight in but it was a knuckle puck,” Ehrhoff said. “I don’t think he knew where it was going and it just changed direction before it got to him and luckily, it went in.”
Buffalo’s next shot also found the back of the net.
Foligno skated down the right wing boards and cut to the middle of the ice once he crossed the Columbus blue line. Then he let loose a low shot that found its way in just inside the right post to make it 3-1.
Bobrovsky was pulled after the goal.
Ott scored as a result of a good cycle by the Sabres in the offensive zone at the 3:51 mark of the third period. Chad Ruhwedel passed the puck to Ehrhoff at the left point, who swung it down to Hodgson on the halfwall. Hodgson threw it in front, where Ott was parked and was able to knock it in.
Columbus made it 4-2 soon after when Letestu scored 5:21 into the third.
Hodgson iced the game with an empty-netter with 1:51 remaining in regulation.
Buffalo lost two forwards over the course of the game. Drew Stafford did not return after sustaining an upper-body injury early in the third period.Ville Leino took a hard hit from Jack Johnson in the midway through the second period and left the game soon after.
Nolan said that they’ll see how Leino feels Sunday morning and that Stafford will likely miss the team’s game Monday night in Pittsburgh. The game can be seen on NBCSN at 7:30 p.m.