Going into the game, the Buffalo Sabres had lost five straight games while the Columbus Blue Jackets had won their previous eight. However, the tides turned on Saturday, Jan. 25 as the Sabres defeated Blue Jackets by a score of 5-2.
The Sabres kicked off the scoring 2:21 into the opening period with a goal by Matt Ellis. After an unsuccessful clearing attempt from Blue Jackets forward Mark Letestu from his own end, the puck found its way to Ellis at the point. Ellis then backhanded a shot that beat Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky up high to give the Sabres an early lead.
Thanks to a goal by Derek MacKenzie, the Blue Jackets evened the score ten and a half minutes later, capping off a give-go-play with Ryan Murray with a shot from the right faceoff circle that beat Ryan Miller to tie the game at one apiece with 7:07 remaining in the first period.
The Sabres however got their one goal lead back in the final minute of the first on a shorthanded goal by Christian Ehrhoff. With Tyler Ennis in the box for elbowing, Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky tried clearing the puck out of his own zone, but Ehrhoff kept it in on the left point. Ehrhoff then fired a slapshot that beat Bobrovsky and went off the far post and in to put the Sabres up 2-1 with 30 seconds remaining in the opening frame.
The Sabres would open the second period with another shorthanded goal 3:28 into the period, this one by Marcus Foligno with Mike Weber in the box for high-sticking. Foligno skated into the offensive zone and wristed a shot from the top of the slot that Bobrovsky got a piece of with his glove, but not enough to keep it from going into the net behind him to give the Sabres a 3-1 lead. The goal would mark the end of Bobrovsky’s night, as Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards would pull him in favor of backup Curtis McElhinney.
The remainder of the second period would go without any scoring, but the Sabres would score again early in the third period, this time from captain Steve Ott. Cody Hodgson took a wrist shot from the outside of the left faceoff circle that McElhinney initially stopped, but Steve Ott was camped on his door step and was able to tap in a rebound through McElhinney's legs to give the Sabres their biggest lead of the night.
The Blue Jackets climbed back within two a minute and a half later with a goal by Mark Letestu. Former Sabres forward Corey Tropp skated into the offensive zone to the top of the right circle and sent a pass to Derek MacKenzie in the slot. Mackenzie backhanded a shot that Ryan Miller stopped, but Letestu darted in from the left circle to cash in on the rebound to cut the Sabres lead to 4-2 with 14:39 remaining in the third and final period.
That would mark the end of the scoring for the Blue Jackets, however, and Cody Hodgson iced the game for the Sabres with an empty net goal with 1:51 remaining, giving the Sabres a 5-2 victory and snapping the Blue Jackets eight game winning streak. It was also the Sabres first win in six games, with their last win coming in a shootout against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 12, that by a score of 2-1.
Ryan Miller made 36 saves on 38 Blue Jackets shots for the Sabres in the victory, while Curtis McElhinney stopped 10 of 11 for the Blue Jackets in relief of Sergei Bobrovsky, who gave up three goals on 10 shots.
Ryan Miller now moves to 13-19-3 on the season with a .926 save percentage and a 2.62 goals against average.
With the win, the Sabres now have a 14-29-7 record after 50 games this season. With 35 points in the standings, the Sabres remain in last place in the entire NHL. However, they are only one point behind the 29th place Edmonton Oilers, who have played 53 games.
The Sabres will now travel to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins on Monday, Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.