SECOND PERIOD ANALYSIS: The Blue Jackets are still committing too many turnovers and have given the Sabres a few power play chances too many, but they hold a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes at First Niagara Center. It's been crazy at times, controlled at others, but Bobrovsky has been pretty darn good between the pipes. Columbus took its first lead of the game on the power play thanks to Dubinsky, who was parked around the top of the crease waiting for a loose puck as Calvert and Atkinson worked down low. The puck eventually found Dubinsky and he chipped it past Miller for a 3-2 lead. The Blue Jackets have certainly had plenty of chances and taken advantage of Buffalo's mistakes, and they'll need a similar effort in the third period.
FIRST PERIOD ANALYSIS: After a sloppy start, the Blue Jackets settled down and played a pretty solid first period here in Buffalo. They have goals from Savard and Calvert to counter tallies from Myers and Stafford - and the Buffalo goals were gifts. The Blue Jackets turned it over in front of their own net on a breakout attempt, leading to Myers pinching in and snapping one past Bobrovsky just 59 seconds in. Stafford received a cross-crease pass from Tyler Ennis 28 seconds after the Jackets tied it up 1-1, thanks to another Columbus giveaway. It was a wild, entertaining first period for everyone in the building...except the coaches. Jackets hold a 14-6 edge in shots on goal.
UPDATE (12:30 PM): With no morning skate today, Todd Richards met with the media and discussed tonight's lineup. Here are some updates...
- Sergei Bobrovsky makes the start in goal. It's his first back-to-back since returning from injury.
- No other changes tonight for Columbus.
MORNING SKATE: The Blue Jackets arrived in Buffalo late last night/early this morning after a 5-1 win over the Washington Capitals. Due to the late arrival, they are NOT scheduled for a morning skate but we'll have game day coverage for you right here at Game Day Central. Also, look for lineup changes, thoughts on the match-up against the Sabres, storylines from the other side and an interview with coach Todd Richards. Stay tuned to this page for the latest!
The Blue Jackets have won five straight games - a season high - and they're expected to dress the same lineup as they did Friday night against the Capitals. Richards said the team planned to travel without Fedor Tyutin (illness), which means they'll use the same six defensemen tonight in Buffalo.
If there's a change to be made, it may come between the pipes but nothing is certain yet. On back-to-back nights, the Blue Jackets have options with no game until Tuesday at home; there's a chance they could go back to Bobrovsky but also a chance to see Curtis McElhinney. That's pretty vague, isn't it?
It's been a while since the Blue Jackets and Sabres have seen each other. Things were different for both clubs back on Oct. 10 when they met at First Niagara Center, in what was the third game of the season for Columbus. The Blue Jackets won that game by a 4-1 final due in large part to a three-goal second period and a solid effort in goal from Bobrovsky.
There have been sweeping changes in Buffalo in the months since that game. Gone are former GM Darcy Regier and former head coach Ron Rolston. Pat LaFontaine is the new president of hockey operations, and he recently named Tim Murray as the Sabres' new GM. Well-liked coach Ted Nolan currently serves as the interim coach for Buffalo, a young club that has gradually started to find its identity.
Where they have excelled is at home. The Sabres have played some of their best hockey at First Niagara Center and it's never an easy place for opponents to play. It's loud, sold out and the fans are passionate about their hockey in western New York; the Blue Jackets have won five straight games and played well for long stretches in that span, but they'll need a smart, committed road game to get the desired result tonight.
VS. LOS ANGELES KINGS
TUESDAY, 7 P.M.
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