It was the same old story Thursday night at the First Niagra Center as the Sabres outplayed the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets to earn a 4-2 victory.
The Sabres top line of Vanek-Adam-Pominville continued to carry the team offensively finishing the night with a combined total of 7 points while goaltender Jhonas Enroth posted 41 saves on route to his second victory of the season.
The first period lived up to its potential as both teams, desperate for a win, came out hard to start the game which made life very difficult for both the Columbus and Buffalo defense. The two teams continued to exchange chances however neither team could capitalize with the Sabres wasting a golden chance on a 4 on 2.
Columbus’s first great chance of the game came off R.J.Umberger’s sitck from the face-off circle but Enroth was equal to the task denying Umberger the opportunity to give his team the early lead. Columbus began to show their desperation as the period progressed throwing everything they could at Jhonas Enroth (hey, if I were the laughing stock of the NHL, I’d be doing the same) but the young swede refused to let one by.
The Blue Jackets frustration became evident when Cody Bass decided to pick a fight with Patrick Kaleta and much like many of Kaleta’s counterparts, he got taken down. With less than six minutes to go in the period the Sabres strike first on the powerplay as a Sabres 3 on 2 results in Thomas Vanek finding Brad Boyes who makes no mistake, 1-0 Buffalo.
With that in mind, Bass decides that he needs to compensate for his loss against Kaleta so towards the end of the period, Bass challenges Cody McCormick however the result is the same as McCormick landed some powerful punches resulting in a take down.
The Sabres begin the second period the same way they ended the 1st period as Luke Adam circling in behind the net finds Vanek in the high slot, his shot is denied however captain Jason Pominville taps in the rebound to give the Sabres a 2-0 lead. The Jackets, down by two, up the pressure once more in the second period as they continue to hammer Enroth with shots from everywhere.
With the less than eight minutes to go in the period, veteran forward Vinny Prospal throws a knuckler on net the Enroth could not get a handle on, cutting the Sabres lead in half. The score remained the same through the rest of the period however Columbus continued to apply pressure eventually finishing the game with 43 shots.
Midway through the third period their efforts finally pay off as Enroth is caught fishing for the puck leaving the top half of the net wide open for Blue Jackets Defenseman Fedor Tyutin who flicked it over Enroth’s shoulder to tie the game at two.
That is as close as Columbus would get to earning a victory tonight as a costly rebound given up by Steve Mason led to the eventual game winner as hometown favorite Patrick Kaleta threw a backhand towards the net for his first goal of the season.
The Sabres would later add an insurance goal as some nice work by Vanek in behind the net earns him just enough time to find Pominville going to the net for his second of the game. The Sabres would go on to hold off the final attempts by Columbus to snap their mini two game skid.
Buffalo’s next game will be this Saturday against Florida at the First Niagara Center.