NHL Game Summary - Buffalo at Columbus
(Friday, January 26th)
Final Score: Columbus 3, Buffalo 2
Columbus, OH (Sports Network) - Rostislav Klesla sparked a third-period comeback with the game-tying goal, while Dan Fritsche knocked home the decisive tally, as the Columbus Blue Jackets rallied for a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres at Nationwide Arena.
In the first game back for both teams after the All-Star break, Columbus dominated the final stanza en route to the win. Klesla was the catalyst for the game-tying marker, as he settled in behind an odd-man rush, took a drop pass from Manny Molhotra and sent a wrist shot over Ryan Miller at 5:22.
Fritsche then notched the go-ahead goal, as he stayed with the play, collected his own rebound, and flipped the puck over the netminder's right pad with 10:37 remaining in the contest.
The Sabres had their best chance to tie things up with five minutes to play, as Chris Drury sent a slap shot just high and wide of the net. Paul Gaustad was then called for tripping with just 2:23 remaining, while Jaroslav Spacek joined him on a holding charge 1:22 later, effectively sealing the win for Columbus.
Rick Nash, who had a pair of goals in the All-Star game, also scored for the Blue Jackets, who have won three of their last four games overall. Fredrik Norrena was nearly flawless between the pipes, turning aside 36 of 38 Buffalo chances, including nine in the final stanza.
"It was a playoff atmosphere," said Columbus head coach Ken Hitchcock. "My look is always to the top rows. This is the loudest I've heard it this season. Even louder than the Detroit game right before the (All-Star) break."
Drury tallied both goals for the Sabres, who have dropped five of their last seven contests. Daniel Briere, who garnered MVP honors at the All-Star game with a goal and four assists, also had a pair of helpers on the night, while Miller made 24 saves.
Columbus drew first blood on the power play, as Buffalo's Dmitri Kalinin went off for hooking. Not more than 30 seconds elapsed on the man-advantage, as David Vyborny took a feed at the blue line, then chipped it up along the boards to Sergei Fedorov, who sent a cross-ice pass to Nash that skipped along the goal mouth. The left winger attempted a quick feed for Anson Carter, but the disc deflected off the knee of Teppo Numminen and through the five-hole of Miller with 7:51 remaining in the first period.
"It was a lucky one, but those are the ones you need to get you going sometimes," said Nash afterward.
The Sabres quickly answered at the tail end of their own power play, as Drury cut toward the net and fired a wrist shot that beat Norrena topshelf with 4:03 to play in the stanza. The fireworks weren't over, however, as Andrew Peters and Jody Shelley dropped the gloves on the ensuing faceoff, with Peters getting the best of his counterpart before the linesman intervened.
Both sides combined for 24 penalty minutes in the early going. A Buffalo power play also bridged the first and second periods, quickly turning into a 5-on-3 at the start when Adam Foote was whistled for holding.
Drury then tallied his second marker of the game, and 12th power play goal of the season, as he one-timed Briere's rebound, ripping a snap shot past Norrena at 1:08.
The Sabres were denied a chance to go up by two with just 18 ticks remaining in the period. Daniel Paille went one-on-one on the breakaway, deked and shifted to the backhand as Norrena committed early, then had the puck kicked away by Anders Eriksson. Paille was awarded a penalty shot as a result, but sent the puck high and wide of the net, as the teams skated to the second intermission with Buffalo clinging to a one-goal lead.
Buffalo finished 2-for-6 on the power play, while Columbus ended 1- for-6...Nash was playing in his 250th career NHL game...It was Buffalo's first visit to Columbus since March 29, 2004, when the Sabres shut out the Blue Jackets by a 6-0 final...Buffalo has 33 games remaining in the regular season, with 28 against Eastern Conference teams, and 13 against Northeast Division opponents...Briere leads the Sabres with 59 points (18G, 41A).
01/26 23:48:33 ET