The Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 tonight at Nationwide Arena. The Jackets jumped out to a two goal lead in the first period, and generally outplayed the Sabres through the frame. Kyle Quincey opened the scoring by burying a beautiful one-timer setup from
Nick Marcus Foligno for his first goal in a CBJ uniform. Cam Atkinson followed that up near the end of the first period, burying his 34th goal of the season off a ridiculous Seth Jones zone entry. Buffalo carried the play for the remainder of the game, but Even Rodrigues’ second period goal is as close as the Sabres would get. Sergei Bobrovsky shut them down the rest of the way, with Brandon Saad adding an empty net goal to give us the final score. The Sabres would finish the game with a 42-29 edge in shots on goal, along with a 54.5% edge in even strength shot attempts. The win gives the CBJ 105 points on the season, extending their single season record to new heights. The team now sits two points on up the Penguins for the second seed in the Metropolitan, and one point back of the Capitals for the top of the NHL. Yeah. I know. The CBJ are back at it on Wednesday night, taking on the Hurricanes of North Carolina down in Raleigh.
Good: Seth Jones
News: Seth Jones is REALLY good. So obviously most attention on Cam Atkinson’s eventual game winner has gone to the zone entry. Cuz yeah, well it was ridiculous and crazy and so good. But if you go back to the start of that play, he initially gets the puck by catching a puck out of the air and instantly moving, like it was just a normal pass and not like ankle high when it got to him. Then he immediately crossed over a Sabre in a fairly ridiculous fashion. Had he passed the puck off there, I would have been impressed with the string of play by him. Please note that ALL of that I just mentioned precedes this:
Holy moly. I am not even certain the puck actually got away from him either. Generally, when the puck gets away from you in that direction, it is on the stick-handle that way. You put a little too much oomph on the move, and it gets away from you. But here Jones appears to lose it on that way back. Without a rolling puck, that pretty much never happens. I think there is a better than even chance that he purposely did that, with an eye on picking it back up like he did. As I said earlier, Seth Jones is REALLY good.
Sad: Sam Reinhart
So that really sucks. As someone who has ridden the pine through an entire game without touching the ice, I feel his pain. At least his benching was for breaking team rules! The strangest part about this was that he wasn’t just healthy scratched. You see those all the time in the NHL, but never do you ever see a guy dress and play zero seconds. Looking at the Sabres roster report from the game shows two injured scratches, one suspended player, and one guy who was announced as being sick a couple hours before puck drop. Presumably, had the team had 18 guys they could play ahead of Reinhart, he would have been a healthy scratch (or had his own transgression came before today and given them time to call someone up). However, the NHL won’t let you dress less than 18 guys unless you absolutely have to. So Reinhart dressed, and sat, and sat, and sat, and sat, and sat, then got undressed and went home.
Great: Sergei Bobrovsky
I don’t really know what to say about this guy anymore. He is just so good. Tonight was one of the quietest 41 save, one goal against performances I have ever witnessed. He had some nice saves, sure, but there weren’t really any plays that he outright stole a sure goal. Fun fact about those plays though: the best goalies can avoid them! Take Curtis McElhinney’s crazy paddle save tonight. That stop only happened because he kicked out an atrocious rebound right before it, and didn’t have the wherewithal to jump on the loose puck. A good goaltender just shepherds that puck into the corner, and it’s nothing. That is what Bob did a lot of tonight. Just routine stop after routine stop that really only looked that way because of how on his game he was tonight. He’s been so great lately (and all season really), and seems to be peaking just in time for the playoffs. At this point, he should be getting his second career Vezina this offseason. He’s currently tops in the NHL in save percentage, wins, and goals against average; and tied for second in shutouts. Of course Braden Holtby is second in save percentage, wins, goals against average, and first in shutouts. So let’s all hope for a late season swoon from him, helping Bob to the Vezina and the CBJ to the Presidents.
Quote of the Night: John Tortorella
“The positive thing I take out of tonight’s game is we find a way to win. Bob plays another really good game and I thought we defended better for a number of minutes. Shots are very deceiving. I thought we kept them outside, I thought we were really strong in front of Bob as far as rebounds. Against a good offensive team that is playing really well right now.”