Jackets Score Two Goals In The Third To Beat the Eastern Conference Leading Sabres
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Dan Fritsche jammed in a rebound on the second try midway through the third period for the decisive goal in the Columbus Blue Jackets' 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night.
The Blue Jackets, who had lost five of their previous seven games, came into the third period trailing 2-1. They improved to just 3-22 when down through two periods.
The Sabres, cheered by thousands of fans who made the trip, fell to 24-2-2 when on top after two.
Manny Malhotra centered a pass to Rostislav Klesla, who was trailing the play, for a high shot that eluded Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller and tied the score at the 5:22 mark of the third period.
Columbus, completely outplayed in the middle period, then took the lead when Manny Malhotra's pass was deflected but ended up on the stick of Jason Chimera. Chimera's shot was stopped by Miller, but Fritsche was at the goal mouth to jam at it. Miller stopped the first with his stick but the second got by him for Fritsche's 10th goal.
Chris Drury had both Buffalo goals, with Daniel Briere, just back from being named MVP of the All-Star game, adding two assists.
Fredrik Norrena had 36 saves for the Blue Jackets, gloving Drury's hard shot with 16 seconds left.
Rick Nash had the other Columbus goal, while Chimera and Malhotra each had two assists.
Loud and rowdy Sabres fans roared throughout the game, pushing the Nationwide Arena crowd to capacity at 18,136. They flooded the arena early, holding up signs saying, "There's no place like (Jason) Pominville" and "My favorite is Briere" while chanting "Let's Go, Buffalo!"
Columbus defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen knocked Sabres forward Ales Kotalik over the boards and head over heels into the Buffalo bench in the opening period, with the crowd roaring its approval.
The Blue Jackets got on the board first when Sergei Fedorov slid a centering pass to Nash in the high slot, with Nash's power-play wrist shot going off the skate of Teppo Numminen and past Ryan Miller for his 14th of the season.
The Sabres came back with a power-play goal of their own, Drury skating along the goal line from the left wing and then going high over Norrena's shoulder.
Buffalo thoroughly dominated the second period, outshooting Columbus 15-4.
Drury pushed the lead to 2-1 when he scored on a rebound off Briere's hard shot for his 26th of the year 1:08 in on the power play.
The Sabres had plenty of chances to extend the lead, none better than when Daniel Paille received a penalty shot with 18 seconds left in the period. Paille ended up on the receiving end of a long pass, 15 feet ahead of the nearest pursuer. Norrena left the crease to cut down the angle and tried to poke the puck away but lost his stick -- leading to the penalty shot.
Paille's shot was deflected just wide by Norrena.
The Blue Jackets traded RW Joe Motzko, C Mark Hartigan and a conditional seventh-round pick to the Anaheim Ducks for C Zenon Konopka, LW Curtis Glencross and a fourth-round pick. ... The teams had not met since March 29, 2004, but the fans behaved like they were old rivals. ... For Columbus, Nash played in his 250th NHL game, C Alexander Svitov his 150th and Tollefsen his 50th. ... East-leading Buffalo, which lost its second in a row, is just 5-6-1 in January.