Buffalo Closes Out Season With Solid Win in Columbus

The Sabres played a strong 60 minutes, outshooting and outscoring the Blue Jackets to end 2022-23 on a high note.

Buffalo Closes Out Season With Solid Win in Columbus

Score: Sabres 5, Blue Jackets 2

Shots: BUF: 35 CBJ: 31

Buffalo Sabres Goals: Jeff Skinner (35), Victor Olofsson (28), Alex Tuch (36), Casey Mittelstadt (15), Peyton Krebs (9)

Columbus Blue Jackets Goals: Johnny Gaudreau (21), Tyler Angle (1)

Plus 1: Skinner Shoots One In

After Blues Jackets winger Johnny Gaudreau scored just 34 seconds into the game, the Sabres struggled the rest of the first period, outshooting Columbus 16-8 but failing to get anything past Jackets goalie Jon Gillies.

Jeff Skinner put any scoring doubts to rest 8:36 into the second, beating Gillies with a wrist shot and an assist from Mittelstadt to tie it at 1. Skinner was quiet the last few games, only getting one goal in his previous five matchups.

Skinner ends the season with 35 goals and 47 assists, his best point season yet. No. 53 is a sniper who knows how to make plays happen. Maybe next year he’ll exceed his 40-goal career total, dating back to 2018-19.

Plus 2: Goaloffson Scores Next

The scoring soon became contagious, with Victor Olofsson getting on the board four minutes later with his own wrister to make it 2-1 Sabres. Fans nicknamed the Buffalo winger “Victor Goaloffson” earlier this season because of his tendency to score goals.

Goaloffson wasn’t getting as many pucks in the net recently, but he ended on a high, scoring one each in the team’s final two games. No. 71 also had his best career year so far, with 28 goals. His past season assists were higher, but fans loved his production in 2022-23 and want to see more starting this October.

Plus 3: Tuch Makes it Three

Two minutes later, Alex Tuch made a snap shot on Gillies with an assist from Skinner to extend Buffalo’s lead to 2. Tuch had at least one assist during his previous five games but no goals, so it was great to see him get one more to close out the season.

Like Skinner and Olofsson, Tuch had his best career year to date, easily exceeding his time in Vegas. No. 89 has blossomed in Buffalo, creating scoring chances on the ice and playing a consistent 60 minutes every time he puts on a Sabres jersey. With Tuch on the roster, next year can’t come soon enough.

Plus 4: Mitts Gets Two-Goal Lead Back

The Columbus Blue Jackets didn’t go down without a fight. Tyler Angle answered Buffalo’s three-goal performance with a wrist shot in the second period’s last two minutes to make it 3-2 visitors. The Sabres had their work cut out for them when Columbus turned up the pressure early in the third period.

Casey Mittelstadt answered back on substitute goalie Michael Hutchinson at the 15:57 mark with a wrister on a perfect Skinner pass to give Buffalo a two-goal lead once more. The Sabres center has been hot lately, with at least a goal or an assist in the season’s final five contests. It’s a shame it all ended so soon because Mitts was just hitting his stride.

Plus 5: Krebs Closes it Out

Too often this year, the Sabres blew leads and let their opponents back in the game. However, Peyton Krebs nailed the door shut on any late Columbus comeback, getting an unassisted backhander with 2:33 to go to make it 5-2 Sabres. Krebs put the game out of reach and let Buffalo skate off the ice on a positive note.

The goal was only No. 19’s ninth, but, like other players on the team, it’s his best season to date. Krebs keeps getting better and Sabres supporters are looking forward to what next season brings.

Final Thoughts

WesIsaLeo had the Comment of Game: “Fine performance from Levi, don’t care who the opponent was. They had the talent to take this game over and did. With the right moves that can happen more next season. 91 pts…big leap.”

Devon Levi was outstanding in net, stopping 29 of 31 shots and helping the Sabres fly home with a final win. Buffalo put up a strong performance throughout the night, keeping up the pressure on both Blue Jackets netminders and not letting their opponents tie it up, something they did too often in 2022-23.

While fans are disappointed the Blue and Gold won’t play in the postseason, the team is on the cusp of a playoff run next year. The Sabres close things out with 91 points, their highest total since 2010-11, the last time the team played in May.

With a strong offensive and defensive core and a promising young goaltender, Buffalo is poised to end its playoff drought in a year’s time. The team isn’t perfect, but it’s finally headed in the right direction and fans can see it.