A new year with a new, young squad has garnered a new result.
J-J Peterka and Linus Weissbach scored late in the third period, and Jack Quinn scored in the shootout to help lift the Buffalo Sabres to a 5-4 preseason victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
The first preseason game of 2021 was a showcase of the youth movement taking place in the Sabres organization.
After two goals from Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand in the first 10 minutes of the first period, with one of them coming on the man advantage, the Sabres were able to reply with Arttu Ruotsalainen going to the net and scoring a goal in front of the Columbus net. Forward John Hayden and defenseman Casey Fitzgerald were credited with the assists on the Ruotsalainen goal.
The second period belonged to the Blue Jackets, as defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov upped the Columbus lead to 3-1 with a goal early in the second period. The shot from Gavrikov found its way behind Sabres goaltender Aaron Dell from long range.
Dell finished his night halfway through the second period, making eight saves on 11 shots faced.
Dustin Tokarski entered the game in relief, only to give up a goal to Blue Jackets defenseman Jake Bean at the 16:00 mark of the second period. Bean fired a long wrist shot from the point that managed to find its way past Tokarski to put Columbus up by a 4-1 score.
However, that was Tokarski's only blemish on the night, as he kept Columbus off the scoreboard from that point, making 20 saves on 21 shots faced.
The Sabres' comeback started early in the third period with a goal from Rochester Americans forward Michael Mersch. The veteran AHLer went to the net and was able to jam home a pass from Sabres newcomer Ryan MacInnis. Weissbach was credited with the secondary assist on the goal.
With time running down in regulation and trailing by a pair, Buffalo turned up the pressure on the Blue Jackets and it resulted in a tied game in just a span of 70 seconds.
With 2:04 remaining in the third period, Weissbach ended up gathering a bouncing puck off a faceoff in the Columbus end, and he fed a wide-open Peterka for a one-timer that ended up in the back of the net.
With the clock past the 19-minute mark and with just 53.4 seconds to go, the Sabres got the game-tying goal from Weissbach off a juicy rebound left by Blue Jackets goalie Jet Greaves. Following a shot from forward Vinnie Hinostroza from the left-side boards, the puck kicked right to Weissbach to the right of the Columbus net, and the rookie winger made no mistake to tie the game at 4-4.
Following a back-and-forth overtime period with no goals to show for it, the Sabres and Blue Jackets needed a shootout to decide the winner of this exhibition affair.
In the opening round of the shootout after a stop by Tokarski on Bjorkstrand, Quinn stepped up for the Sabres and managed to slide the puck past an extended left leg of Greaves for the go-ahead goal.
With Columbus needing a goal to extend the shootout, forward Kevin Stenlund was able to get a shot past Tokarski, but his attempt hit the post and stayed out of the Buffalo net.
BUF: 11:20 - Arttu Ruotsalainen (1) (John Hayden, Casey Fitzgerald)
CBJ: 5:56 - Oliver Bjorkstrand (1) (Tyler Angle, Jack Roslovic); 9:37 - Oliver Bjorkstrand (2) PPG (Jake Bean, Tyler Angle)
CBJ: 0:27 - Vladislav Gavrikov (1) (Eric Robinson, Jake Bean); 16:08 - Jake Bean (1) (Vladislav Gavrikov, Kevin Stenlund)
BUF: 2:33 - Michael Mersch (1) (Ryan MacInnis, Linus Weissbach); 17:56 - J-J Peterka (1) (Linus Weissbach); 19:06 - Linus Weisbach (1) (Vinnie Hinostroza, Will Butcher)
CBJ: Oliver Bjorkstrand - Save
BUF: Jack Quinn - GOAL
CBJ: Jack Roslovic - Miss
BUF: J-J Peterka - Save
CBJ: Kevin Stenlund - Miss
BUF: 2:34 - Linus Weissbach (Hooking - 2 min.); 9:19 - J-J Peterka (Cross-checking - 2 min.)
BUF: 6:09 - Brett Murray (Tripping - 2 min.)
CBJ: 7:29 - Carson Meyer (Hooking - 2 min.)
BUF: 10:55 - Brandon Davidson (Slashing - 2 min.)
CBJ: 15:47 - Eric Robinson (Slashing - 2 min.)
Losi and Gangi Three Stars of the Game:
1.) Jake Bean - CBJ
2.) Oliver Bjorkstrand - CBJ
3.) Linus Weissbach - BUF
The Sabres will travel to Detroit to play the Red Wings on Thursday night for preaseaon game No. 2 at Little Caesars Arena. Faceoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on the radio home of the Sabres - WGR Sports Radio 550.