Tyler Myers, playing in his 300th NHL game scored twice Saturday night, including the game-tying goal on the power play with 36.4 seconds remaining in regulation. However, the Columbus Blue Jackets scored the lone goal in the shootout and left First Niagara Center with a 4-3 victory over Buffalo.
Buffalo is 6-1-3 in its past 10 home games. The Blue Jackets have now won six games in a row.
“It was good of us to bounce back and tie the game late at the end with a power-play goal,” Myers said. “We weren’t able to get the extra point, but I thought our power play tonight, I thought we moved it pretty well throughout the whole game. There are definitely things to build on on the power play and throughout the game. We’re just going to have to keep bringing a 60-minute effort here.”
Drew Stafford opened the scoring for Buffalo in the first minute of play.
Tyler Ennis, with two assists, extended his point streak to four games. He has two goals and three assists over that span.
Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan liked what he saw from both Ennis and Myers, who were both selected by the Sabres in the first round of the 2008 NHL Draft.
“Both of them, I don’t know which one played better,” Nolan said. “I think if you flip a coin, it would probably land on its side. They both played a great game for us tonight.”
The Sabres had a go-ahead goal early in the third period called back upon video review, but after losing the lead midway through, were able to tie it in the final minute of play.
David Savard, Matt Calvert, Brandon Dubinsky each scored in regulation for Columbus. Ryan Johansen scored the deciding shootout goal in the bottom of the third round.
Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky made 26 saves and turned aside all three Sabres attempts in the shootout.
Twenty-four seconds into the second period, the Sabres celebrated a goal that would have given them a 3-2 lead. However, video review determined that Moulson kicked the puck into the Columbus net and the goal was disallowed.
Ennis, who shot the puck that ended up going through Bobrovsky and to Moulson, was surprised by the reversal.
“I actually was pretty disappointed, obviously,” he said. “When it was called a goal on the ice, it’s pretty hard to go against the call and it was pretty close. It has to be a distinct kicking motion and to me, it didn’t look like enough of a distinct kicking motion to be called back. It was frustrating, but those are the breaks that a last place team seems to get and we did a good job fighting back, getting a point.”
Miller was able to watch a few different angles of the play on the video board during the stoppage.
“Touchy situation. I did the rule committee for a number of years and our biggest concern Is you allow guys to start kicking the puck, what happens when the goalie’s on the ice and you’re just free to kick?” he said. “It’s a dangerous play and there’s a reason there’s no kicking in hockey. It’s open for interpretation, so that’s the tough part.
“I thought he was trying to cradle the puck in a stopping motion. He’s moving his foot outward to corral it so in my mind, not really kicking at the net, just trying to corral it. So you can interpret it any direction, but Toronto has the final say and it’s not up to us.”
Miller stopped 32 shots, including a big glove save on a one-timer from R.J. Umberger while Columbus skated in on a 2-on-1 midway through the first period.
“I got a little flat-footed and stuck there. I got a little lucky he shot back into me maybe three or four feet, but you don’t put your glove there and nothing good’s going to happen. I was happy to get a hold of it.”
The game got off to a fast start as the two teams skated into the locker room tied 2-2.
Buffalo opened the scoring 59 seconds in when Myers skated in from the right point to accept a cross-ice pass from Matt Moulson. He wristed a shot past Bobrovsky to give Buffalo the early lead.
On the power play in the final minute that set up the game-tying goal, the Sabres pulled the goalie. Sabres captain Steve Ott won a faceoff to the right of Blue Jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky. The puck made its way to Cody Hodgson, who found Myers, once again, creeping down the right wing toward the net.
Myers has scored a few goals from that spot. Both goals Saturday came from that area and he scored a similar goal on Dec. 19 against Boston.
“I don’t know what it is. I’m just trying to find holes and that seems to be the hole that opens up for right defensemen,” he said. “I’m over there for most of the game so it’s going to be around that area somewhere that things open up.”
Savard tied the game 6:47 in, but the Sabres regained the lead 28 seconds later when Stafford tapped in a pass from Tyler Ennis in front of the net.
Columbus clawed back yet again when Calvert scored just as a penalty to Myers expired to make it 2-2 with 7:11 to play in the first..
The Blue Jackets took their first lead of the game with 8:39 left in the second period on the power play. With Zenon Konopka in the box for goaltender interference, Columbus converted on a mad scramble in front of the net. After a few whacks and scoring attempts, Dubinsky was able to gather a loose puck and toss it into the net to make It 3-2.
“You give our team a lot of credit. One goal was taken away, the League’s screaming for goals and I don’t know how he could kick it, trying to stop at the same time,” Nolan said. “But anyways, then we take a bad penalty, they go ahead and we fight back to tie it up. Our team had good resiliency tonight.”
The Sabres continue their three-game hometstand Tuesday night when the Florida Panthers come to town. Face off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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