The Columbus Blue Jackets took advantage of poor defensive play by the Sabres and put a damper on Fan Appreciation Day by beating Buffalo 4-1 in the final home contest of the 2015-2016 season.
The Sabres loose play in their own end and a significant lower body injury to defenseman Zach Bogosian early in the game were too much to overcome as their three game winning streak came to an end.
Sam Reinhart answered a first period goal by Columbus midway through the second, but after that the Blue Jackets took over and denied Buffalo its 80th point of the season.
Buffalo had three players making their NHL debut in tonight’s contest. Evan Rodrigues, Cole Schneider, and goaltender Jason Kasdorf. All three played a solid game for the team tonight.
Both teams showed off their speed in a fast paced first period, but the Blue Jackets scored a late power play goal from Matt Calvert and outshot the Sabres 14-8 to take a 1-0 lead into the dressing room.
The Sabres came out strong in the second period with the help of four power plays. The team finally cashed in on the last one when Sam Reinhart tipped in a shot from the point by Jack Eichel at the 13:37 mark for his 23rd of the year.
Buffalo’s defense became sloppy for the remainder of the period and Columbus took advantage with a pair of goals. Nick Foligno and Dalton Prout each beat Sabres netminder Jason Kasdorf to give the Blue Jackets a 3-1 lead after two periods.
Columbus continued to pressure the Sabres to start the third and were rewarded with their fourth goal of the game when Brandon Saad snapped the puck past Kasdorf for his 30th of the season. The tally was too much for the Sabres as the Blue Jackets went on for the easy win.
Even with tonight’s loss, it’s great to see Buffalo heading in the right direction. Last year’s Sabres team accumulated a dismal 54 points, but with one game still to play the team is at a much improved 79 points.
Not only did the Sabres gather almost 30 points more than a season ago, they have four players with at least 20 goals this season. This last time this happened was the 2010/2011 season when Vanek, Pominville, Stafford and Ennis had the honors.
With tonight’s victory the Blue Jackets kept the Sabres from sweeping the season series. Buffalo had wins of 4-2 and 4-0 earlier in the year.
The Sabres will wrap up the 2015-2016 campaign Saturday night against the NY Islanders at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.