COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Sergei Bobrovsky didn’t get his fourth straight shutout and didn’t even play his best game, but the Columbus Blue Jackets generated enough offense to get the All-Star goalie his NHL-leading 36th win.
Boone Jenner broke a tie with 5:07 left, and Bobrovsky made 29 saves in the Blue Jackets’ 4-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night. The teams will meet again Saturday night in Buffalo.
Nick Foligno and Sam Gagner had power-play goals, and David Savard also scored for the Blue Jackets. They have won three straight and seven of their last 10.
Jenner corralled a loose puck and wrapped it around goalie Robin Lehner , and the Blue Jackets held on for their 43rd victory to tie the franchise season record set in 2013-14.
“I don’t think the intensity was there for us, especially the first couple periods,” Jenner said. “But we got going and in that third period we picked up the pace and found a way to win.”
Josh Gorges scored his first goal in more than a year, Evan Rodrigues and Rasmus Ristolainen also connected for Buffalo, and Lehner stopped 35 shots. The Sabres have lost four straight.
Gorges said this one was hard to take because the hard-luck Sabres matched Columbus blow-for-blow for most of the game.
“It’s very frustrating,” he said. “I think tonight more so than our last four or five (loses). We did a lot of good things, competed hard. That’s a hard-working team on the other side and we matched them, and that’s what we want. We want to have that intensity. Unfortunately, tonight we made a few mistakes and they were able to capitalize.”
Buffalo struck less than three minutes into the game. Rodrigues fired a shot from the slot into the top right corner of the net with Bobrovsky leaning to the left.
He was the first to score on the Columbus goalie since Alex Galchenyuk of the Montreal Canadiens in overtime in the Blue Jackets’ 1-0 loss Feb. 28.
Savard tied it at 6:09 of the period with a top-shelf wrister launched from just below the blue line off a faceoff.
Later in the period, after some sharp passing around the zone by Columbus on a power play, Foligno made it 2-1 when he chipped in Alexander Wennberg’s shot. Zach Werenski got the second assist, and his 40th point of the season to break the Blue Jackets record for rookie scoring. Rick Nash had 39 in 2002-03.
Gorges made it 2-2 about five minutes into the second period when his shot from the left point again caught the Columbus goalie leaning the other way. It was Gorges’ first goal in 78 games.
The Blue Jackets took advantage of another power play with 1:31 left in second period. Gagner unloaded a slap shot from the top of the right circle past Lehner to make it 3-2.
The Sabres tied it again with nearly six minutes gone in the third period — with a bit of luck — when the puck was deflected by Bobrovsky and trickled over the line. Ristolainen got credit for the goal.
“The two power play goals they get are a big factor in the game,” Buffalo coach Dan Bylsma said. “We come back each time in the game with a lot of good things from our guys, and with five minutes to go there we win a faceoff and somehow they get (Jenner) all alone at the net with our goaltender.”
NOTES: Columbus D Ryan Murray missed his second game because of a lower-body injury. … Buffalo F Kyle Okposo missed his fourth game with a rib injury, and D Dmitry Kulikov was out for the third straight game with an upper-body injury. … Gagner has three goals and two assists in the last four games….Brandon Dubinsky, who got an assist on Savard’s goal, has 15 points in his last 17 games.