If the Sabres only played once a week they might be the best team in the league.
After five days of rest, the Sabres played their most complete game of the season, defeating Columbus 5-0 on Friday at HSBC Arena.
The victory marked the first time the Sabres have defeated the Blue Jackets since 2004.
There was not much more you could ask for out of the Sabres on Friday. Ryan Miller earned his first shutout of the season, Jochen Hecht and Jason Pominville finally scored, the power play was on fire, and Drew Stafford had two points in his return to the lineup.
Head coach Lindy Ruff liked what he saw from his team tonight. “That might have been as good as a game we have played in our building,” Ruff said.
“With 5 days off you should have a jump on the other team.”
Tyler Ennis also made an impact with his first career three point game.
The Blue Jackets had won the past two meetings by a combined score of 10-1. Friday’s loss to Buffalo gave Columbus its fourth consecutive defeat and its first to an Eastern Conference opponent.
The Sabres began the scoring early in the first period.
After Tyler Ennis was stopped on a breakaway, Jochen Hecht followed up on the play and knocked in the rebound. Three Columbus players were scrambling for the puck in the crease, but Hecht found it first, giving the Sabres a 1-0 lead.
Hecht’s third goal of the season was assisted by Ennis and Mike Grier. Hecht almost helped Buffalo get its second goal by feeding Patrick Kaleta a backhanded saucer pass. Kaleta was unable to tap in the bouncing puck, but the Sabres continued to put on the pressure.
Jason Pominville finally netted his second goal of the season, giving the Sabres a 2-0 lead. With Thomas Vanek clogging the area in front of the net, Pominville capitalized on Buffalo’s second power play chance. The goal was assisted by Drew Stafford and Thomas Vanek.
Columbus had two goals disallowed in the second period. Ethan Moreau’s interference on Ryan Miller allowed for another Buffalo power play. Drew Stafford put the Sabres up by three with his fifth goal of the season. Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek assisted on the goal.
After two periods of play the Sabres have outshot the Blue Jackets 29-12.
The frustration level for Columbus hit during the third period, leading to three fights. Tyler Ennis put the Sabres up by four with five minutes remaining. Thomas Vanek added Buffalo’s third power play goal with less than a minute to go in the game.
The Sabres finished the game with 63 total penalty minutes, the most since they had 71 during a game against the Islanders in 2008.
Buffalo will travel to Ottawa on Saturday to take on the Senators. Ottawa always seems to give the Sabres trouble. How will Buffalo respond after such a solid performance?