Special teams lift Sabres to comeback win over Columbus

Jeff Skinner scores twice, while Zach Benson nets the game-winning goal in a 4-3 victory

Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) - The Buffalo Sabres used three power play goals, including the final two goals of the game, to upend the Columbus Blue Jackets, 4-3, on Saturday afternoon at KeyBank Center.

Patrik Laine opened the scoring with eight minutes remining in the opening period. The veteran forward received a pass from Kirill Marchenko in the slot and was able to slip the puck past Devon Levi.

Columbus was able to double its lead several minutes later when Justin Danforth scored. The goal came on the Blue Jackets' 10th shot of the period, extending the advantage to 2-0 over the Sabres.

Buffalo ended up being outshot, 10-7, in the first period by the Blue Jackets. The Sabres were unable to capitalize on either of their power play chances, but Columbus did not have any power play chances in the opening frame.

Laine's second goal of the game came less than a minute into the second period thanks to a nifty backhand pass from across the crease. David Jiricek setup Laine with the pass after beating the Sabres defense to create the chance. The goal put the Sabres down 3-0 early in the period.

The Sabres' third power play chance of the game helped produce the team's first goal midway through the second period. Jeff Skinner was able to fight off a couple defenders in tight and force the puck into the net for the special team's score.

His goal came with Danforth in the penalty box, and trimmed Buffalo's deficit to 3-1.

Henri Jokiharju was able to beat Elvis Merzlikins on a shot early in the third period to cut the Sabres' deficit to just a goal. The defenseman's shot fluttered under the Blue Jackets goalie two minutes in to bring the Sabres to within one.

The Sabres tallied several minutes later on the power play to tie the game at 3-3 midway through the third period. Skinner scored his second power play goal of the afternoon, as Kyle Okposo and Zach Benson were credited with the assists.

Benson was able to convert on a rebound chance on the next Buffalo power play to give the team their first lead of the game. This year's first-round pick was able to use a backhand shot on a bouncing puck that gave the Sabres a 4-3 lead.

Levi and the Sabres were able to hold off Columbus over the final two minutes to preserve the one-goal win. The last stretch included an extra skater thanks to the Blue Jackets pulling Merzlikins from the goal.



Scoring Summary:

First Period:
CBJ: 12:02 - Patrik Laine (1) (Kirill Marchenko, Emil Bemstrom); 15:50 - Justin Danforth (1) (Kent Johnson, Denton Mateychuk)

Second Period:
BUF: 10:28 - Jeff Skinner (2) PPG (Kyle Okposo, Tage Thompson)
CBJ: 0:23 - Patrik Laine (2) (David Jiricek, Emil Bemstrom)

Third Period:
BUF: 2:03 - Henri Jokiharju (1) (Victor Olofsson, Dylan Cozens); 9:20 - Jeff Skinner (3) PPG (Kyle Okposo, Zach Benson); 14:14 - Zach Benson (2) PPG (Kyle Okposo, Tage Thompson)


Penalty Summary:

First Period:
CBJ: 1:37 - Justin Danforth (Slashing - 2 min.); 16:54 - David Jiricek (Slashing - 2 min.)

Second Period:
BUF: 17:13 - Dylan Cozens (Slashing - 2 min.); 19:26 - Dylan Cozens (Roughing - 2 min.)
CBJ: 8:20 - Justin Danforth (Tripping - 2 min.); 14:45 - Adam Fantilli (Tripping - 2 min.)

Third Period:
CBJ: David Jiricek (Tripping - 2 min.); 13:35 - Jordan Dumais (Holding - 2 min.)




Photo credit Losi and Gangi

Losi and Gangi Three Stars of the Game:

1.) Jeff Skinner - BUF
2.) Kyle Okposo - BUF
3.) Zach Benson - BUF


What's next:

The Sabres will play the second game of a home-and-home preseason series with the Blue Jackets on Wednesday when the two teams face off at Nationwide Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. ET and can be heard on the radio home of the Sabres - WGR Sports Radio 550.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports