BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Rookie star Jack Eichel scored a hustling unassisted goal and Buffalo beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2 on Monday to give coach Dan Bylsma his first victory with the Sabres.
Eichel, the former Boston University player selected No. 2 overall in the June draft, bodied off Boone Jenner in a loose-puck battle, kept the puck in the offensive zone, wheeled to his forehand and ripped a shot over goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to give Buffalo a 3-1 lead at 9:21 of the third period.
Eichel has two goals this season.
Rasmus Ristolainen, Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Moulson had power-play goals for Buffalo. Moulson added two assists, and Chad Johnson made 21 saves to help Buffalo rebound after losing its first two games of the season.
Scott Hartnell and Brandon Saad scored for Columbus, and Bobrovsky stopped 29 shots. The Blue Jackets are 0-3.
Ristolainen opened the scoring on a power play at 2:33 of the second period after the line of Eichel, Evander Kane and Marcus Foligno pressured Columbus and drew a hooking penalty on Nick Foligno. Kane slid a cross-ice entry pass to Marcus Foligno, who won it back to Ristolainen for a slap shot from the right point.
Eichel and Kane worked a 2-on-1 later, but Kane couldn’t direct Eichel’s slip pass onto goal. Bobrovsky denied Cody Franzen’s slap shot and Jamie McGinn’s rebound jab midway through the second.
Buffalo couldn’t put the Blue Jackets away despite a dominant second period that featured a 16-8 advantage in shots on goal.
O’Reilly struck with the man advantage when Moulson found him 1-on-1 with Bobrovsky. O’Reilly beat the Columbus goalie with a high snap shot at 5:10 of the third.
Saad put Columbus back in the game on a power play at 7:20 when he buried a loose puck off a scrum in the crease, but Eichel restored Buffalo’s advantage with his nifty goal.
Poor positioning allowed Hartnell to cut the deficit to 1. After Johnson denied Nick Foligno in tight, Ryan Johansen was able to spot an open Hartnell in the slot for the power-play goal with 6:47 left.
But Moulson maintained his spot in front of the Columbus net to put O’Reilly’s pass home on another power play with 4:14 remaining.
NOTES: Buffalo defenseman Jake McCabe was recalled from Rochester of the American Hockey League before the game. … Sabres right winger Brian Gionta sat out because of a lower-body injury, and defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo was a healthy scratch. … Right winger David Clarkson was scratched for Columbus.