After dropping the first three games of the season in regulation and the fourth in overtime, the Sabres hoped to get in the win column for the first time this season against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday, Oct. 10.
However, the end result was the same as the Sabres only mustered one goal and lost by a score 4-1.
The Blue Jackets didn’t waste much time getting on the board, taking an early 1-0 lead with a goal by Cam Atkinson only a minute and 51 seconds into the opening period. Blue Jackets forward Marian Gaborik took a shot from the top of the right circle that hit the left goal post, leaving Atkinson to tap the puck across the goal line on the rebound for the first goal of the game.
The Sabres were able to tie the game about seven minutes later though on a highlight reel goal by Thomas Vanek. After taking a pass from defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, Sabres forward Cody Hodgson sent a pass from above the right circle to Steve Ott off the wall down in the left corner. Ott then sent a pass out front to Vanek, who with a nifty stick-between-the-legs shot beat Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky through the five-hole to even the score with 11:10 remaining in the first period.
However, the tie didn’t last even eight minutes, as Nick Foligno (brother of Sabres forward Marcus Foligno) gave the Blue Jackets a 2-1 lead with 3:25 remaining in the first period. Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen took control of the puck behind the Buffalo net and tapped a short pass to Foligno, who sent a backhand pass out front towards R.J. Umberger. The puck never reached Umberger though, instead bouncing off the skate of Sabres defenseman Mike Weber and into the net past goalie Ryan Miller to put the Blue Jackets back in the lead.
Marian Gaborik was then able to put the Blue Jackets 3-1 just over two minutes later on an odd-man rush. After the Sabres were unable to sustain pressure in the offensive zone, Blue Jackets rookie defenseman Ryan Murray was able to clear the puck up the left wing to forward Cam Atkinson, opening up a 2-on-1 rush with Gaborik. With Sabres defenseman Mike Weber as the only man back on the play, Atkinson was able to skate into the slot on the left side and send a pass over to Gaborik. Gaborik then roofed a slapshot past Miller to give the Blue Jackets a two goal lead with only 1:12 remaining in the first period.
As bad as the first period ended for the Sabres, the second started just as poorly with the Blue Jackets taking a 4-1 lead only two minutes and 11 seconds in on a goal by forward Brandon Dubinsky. After taking a pass from Marian Gaborik off the left wing boards just inside the offensive zone, Dubinsky skated to the top of the left circle and sent a pass back to the right point to defenseman David Savard. Savard then let a slap shot go that Ryan Miller was able make a save on, but left a big rebound into the slot that Dubinsky was able to backhand past Miller to give the Blue Jackets a three goal lead.
With the remainder of the game going scoreless, the Sabres were dealt their fourth regulation loss of the season and remain winless, falling to 0-4-1 after the first five games of the season.
Ryan Miller made 29 saves on 33 shots in the loss, and falls to 0-3-0 on the season with a .938 save percentage and a 2.36 goals against average. While those are solid individual numbers for a goalie, the Sabres have been unable to give Miller much goal support on the offensive end.
The Sabres next game is in Chicago on Saturday, where the Sabres will take on the defending Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks at 8 p.m. eastern time.