The Buffalo Sabres got off to a good start in this one. They had some jump in their stride in the opening 20 minutes. The Columbus Blue Jackets have struggled with starting slow the past few games and were probably lucky to only trail by one goal after the first period.
The Sabres go their first of the game and a rare first-period goal off of a Jackets defensive zone turnover. Kyle Okposo found Jack Eichel in the slot on a quick 3 on 2 transition. Bobrovsky couldn’t handle the rebound and Benoit Pouliot was Johnny on the spot to put it in the back of the net.
The Sabres headed to the first intermission with a 1-0 lead on the scoreboard and in shots 15-11.
The Blue Jackets picked it up in the second period. They put a lot of pressure on Linus Ullmark and the Sabres defense. Ullmark made perhaps his best save of the game by flashing some leather on Jackets all-star defenseman Seth Jones who found some space in the high slot. Columbus outshot the Sabres 15-7 in the period but still trailed 1-0 after 40 minutes.
The pressure continued for the visitors in the final frame. However, the Sabres were the beneficiary of a lucky bounce. A harmless dump-in took an awkward bounce off the back wall and onto the stick of Kyle Okposo. With Bobrosky out the net to chase the puck, he anticipated coming behind the net. Okposo had one of the easiest goals of his career to make it 2-0.
The Blue Jackets did manage to make it interesting. They got the only power play of the game with 7:34 left in the third. Artemi Panarin turned Justin Falk inside out and then beat Ullmark with a nice backhand to pull his club within one.
In a twist of fate that power play goal put the Jackets ahead of the Sabres in power-play percentage. Buffalo stands alone as the worst power play in hockey now.
Anyways, the 24-year-old goaltender stood tall in the final minutes of the game. In what will probably be his only NHL appearance this season. Ullmark gave fans something to look forward to.
In the final seconds, Eichel found the empty net to ice the game for a 3-1 victory and snap the five-game losing streak.
Final Score: Sabres 3, Blue Jackets 1
Shots on Goal: Sabres 29 | Blue Jackets 45
Sabres Goal Scorers: Pouliot (9), Okposo (7) and Eichel (18)
Blue Jackets Scorers: Panarin (12)
Three Stars of the Game
1. Linus Ullmark (44 saves on 45 shots)
2. Jack Eichel (1 G, 1 A)
3. Brendan Guhle (1 A)
Comment of the Game
What a difference
Guhle and Ullmark made.