Score: BUF 4 | CBJ 7
Shots: Sabres 33 | Blue Jackets 29
Buffalo Sabres Goals: Tage Thompson (7, 8-PP), Zemgus Girgensons (4-PP), Dylan Cozens (4)
Columbus Blue Jackets Goals: Jack Roslovic (1,2), Oliver Bjorkstrand (6), Max Domi (2), Vladislav Gavrikov (1, 2-EN), Sean Kuraly (3-EN)
Plus-1: Henri Returns
After suffering a lower-body injury during the season opener against Montreal, defenseman Henri Jokiharju finally returned to the lineup tonight. With an assist to the first goal of the night - Tage Thompson’s seventh - and a nice hit on a Blue Jackets winger, Joki’s presence was felt immediately and with an element of grit that is always desired on a historically soft team.
Other honorable mentions from tonight’s game include Thompson - who now leads the team with eight goals - and Zemgus Girgensons who had his first power-play goal since the 2015-2016 season and only the third of his career. This was also Thompson’s first time scoring twice in one game.
Plus-2: Buffalo Kept Battling
While the scoreboard was never in the Sabres’ favor after the first goal, Buffalo was aggressive for a majority of the game. It was evident that they wanted to win and the effort was there (something we simply could not say last year), but Columbus was better with puck movement and goaltending. Buffalo could have easily given up after a three-goal deficit, but they kept working hard until the last minutes of the game and the empty net goals that put the nail in the coffin.
Minus-1: Always Playing Catch-up
Coming off of a great goal with 0.4 seconds remaining in the first period, the Sabres were able to tie it up going into the first intermission and the momentum seemed to be swinging their way for once. However, fans were left scratching their heads in the first minute of the second period when the Blue Jackets scored not one, but two quick goals to give the visitors a 4-2 lead and soon after, a 5-2 lead. It would be Dylan Cozens who would score next for the Sabres, giving Buffalo hope with plenty of time left in the game. After the first minute of the second period, Dustin Tokarski was pulled, giving Aaron Dell another chance between the pipes.
This was a rollercoaster of a game to watch. The Sabres started out very strong, dominating most of the first period, but Columbus came out on top and, unfortunately, tonight really highlighted a problem that has haunted the Sabres for several years: goaltending. With Craig Anderson injured and Tokarski and Dell being inconsistent, Buffalo may need to look to Rochester to give some other guys a chance. At this point, what is there to lose? They are not winning games or earning points. In fact, they have lost three regulation games in the past 10 days - all of which four or more goals have been scored. So, other than the Calgary game, scoring has really not been an issue. Let’s hope the scoring can continue as they are slated to face another tough team on Wednesday: the Bruins. Puck drop will be at 7:00 PM at KeyBank Center.