The Blue Jackets wanted to make sure they were ready for a desperate Sabres team tonight. Mission accomplished.
From the opening shift, the visitors dictated the pace and put copious amounts of pressure the Buffalo defense, putting together a string of solid shifts before they broke through less than two minutes into the game. Marian Gaborik - who had the jets on all night - ripped a shot off the crossbar and Ryan Miller lost track of it, allowing Cam Atkinson to swoop in and deposit the Jackets' first goal at the 1:51 mark.
And from there, they just keep playing their game. Regardless of how cliche it may sound, the Blue Jackets did what they do best: defend first, transport the puck with speed, and sustain pressure in the offensive zone. They shook off a nifty Thomas Vanek equalizer midway through the first period by scoring two more of their own; Buffalo native Nick Foligno scored what stood up as the game-winning goal a few minutes later on a centering pass, and 2:13 after that, Atkinson was at it again and set up Gaborik with a slam-dunk.
Despite a dominant first period by Columbus, the Sabres were still in the hockey game.
They didn't get a power play chance until late in the game, but Buffalo created some offense early in the middle frame. Bobrovsky was outstanding throughout, but did some of his best work in the second period. Brandon Dubinsky's first of the season just over two minutes into the second put a huge dent into Buffalo's comeback hopes, as he backhanded a long rebound over Miller's blocker.
Columbus improved its road record to 2-0-0 with a lockdown third period, which is right up their alley. The odd-man rushes were non-existent and even though they weren't able to cash in on a four-minute power play, they made sure the Sabres didn't take any momentum from it.
Dubinsky's goal was the dagger, and especially deflating for a Sabres team looking to get its first win of the season. Miller offered a large rebound right into the slot, and Dubinsky - who started the play moments earlier - cashed it in to put the Sabres in an even bigger deficit.
1. MARIAN GABORIK (CBJ)
His first three-point game as a member of the Blue Jackets was one of his better games in the CBJ sweater. Gaborik was dangerous in the offensive zone, efficient on the backcheck and gave the Sabres all kinds of problems when his line was on the ice. That's the kind of effort you want from your go-to goal scorer.
2. CAM ATKINSON (CBJ)
Sure, it was a multi-point night on the scoresheet (goal and assist) but Atkinson was zipping around the rink tonight. He got the Jackets started early in the first period and was a key part of the highly-productive top line. That assist to Gaborik was absolutely sick.
3. SERGEI BOBROVSKY (CBJ)
He wasn't called upon to make any spectacular saves, but Bobrovsky was a rock between the pipes tonight. His most timely came in the third period, a slap-shot rejection on a breakaway for Vanek. His lone blemish was the Vanek first-period goal, but you can't fault him one bit.
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