The Buffalo Sabres would enter the Nationwide Arena on Saturday night, looking to go toe-to-toe with the hottest team in the National Hockey League.
If the Sabres wanted to stand any sort of chance against the Columbus Blue Jackets, winners of 8 straight games, a fast start would be a must.
Fortunately for the Sabres, forward Matt Ellis would answer the call.
Just 2:21 into the first period, a drifting backhand from just under the blue line beat Sergei Bobrovsky. This would go in the books as Ellis’ 3rd goal of the season and the Sabres’ first of the game.
Following the Sabres first goal, Columbus increased their offensive pressure and began getting quality changes.
A few minutes of great Blue Jackets chances would pass before they finally cashed in.
At 12:51, a very neat tic-tac-toe play resulted in Derek MacKenzie shooting on an almost empty net. MacKenzie’s shot would ricochet off of Zenon Konopka’s right foot and into the net. For MacKenzie, it was his 4th goal of the year and the first of the game for Columbus.
Buffalo would take the lead back late in the period, while they were on the penalty kill.
Following a mishandle of a zone exit by Columbus, Christian Ehrhoff put a shot on net. The puck apparently had eyes, and found a way by Bobrovsky. This would be Ehrhoff’s 3rd goal of the season, at 19:30. The goal gave Ehrhoff his 300th career point.
After one period, Buffalo lead Columbus 2-1.
Columbus began the second period with their foot on the gas pedal. For over the first two minutes of the period, Columbus possessed the put in Buffalo’s zone.
Oddly enough, the tides would again turn for Buffalo once they headed to the penalty kill.
Marcus Foligno would gain possession and skate into their offensive zone, instead of shooting down the ice. Foligno continued to rush the net, before releasing a booming shot.
Foligno’s shot trickled through Bobrovsky’s pad, at 3:28, for his 6th goal of the season and Buffalo’s 3rd of the game. Foligno’s goal also was the Sabres second shorthanded goal of the game. The last time Buffalo accomplished this feat was March 30, 2007 against the New York Islanders.
After two periods, Buffalo would lead Columbus, 3-1.
The Sabres began the third period with Columbus again leading the offensive charge but Buffalo was not held back for long.
At 3:51 of the third, Steve Ott saw the slimmest of a rebound on a Cody Hodgson shot. Ott would put the puck home, right at the goal mouth. This would be Ott’s 7th goal of the season, and Buffalo’s 4th of the game.
Just a few minutes later, Columbus would finally get a break to go their way. Mark Letestu would score his 7th goal of the season, at 5:21, to bring Columbus to with two goals.
Columbus increased offensive pressure as the game went on, but Buffalo did not waiver.
When the Blue Jackets goaltender vacated the crease, in favor of an extra attacker, Cody Hodgson put the game on ice. With his 12th goal, at 18:09, Hodgson gave the Sabres a 5-2 lead.
Buffalo would hold the lead for the final minute and change, sealing up a very impressive 5-2 victory.
The Sabres are now 14-29-7 with 35 points.
Buffalo plays again on Monday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins, at the Consol Energy Center. Puck drops after 7:30 PM and the game will be broadcast nationally on NBCSN.