NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, January 18th (All times Eastern)
Columbus Blue Jackets (23-20-4) at Buffalo Sabres (13-27-6), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The red-hot Columbus Blue Jackets will try to match the longest winning streak in franchise history when they visit the Buffalo Sabres for Saturday's battle at First Niagara Center.
Columbus picked up its fifth straight victory on Friday, slamming the visiting Washington Capitals by a 5-1 score. The easy regulation win moved the Blue Jackets, who have also won six of six seven games, within two points of the Caps for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Cam Atkinson tallied twice and Jack Johnson added two assists to lead Columbus to Friday's rout. Ryan Johansen, James Wisniewski and Mark Letestu also found the back of the net for the Blue Jackets, while Sergei Bobrovsky was solid in goal, making 26 saves.
"When we're at our best all four lines are buzzing and creating chances," said Atkinson. "Our power play was hot. (Bobrovsky) was good for us. Our (penalty kill) was strong. If you win the special teams, you're more likely going to win the game."
Another win on Saturday would match a franchise record for consecutive wins. The Blue Jackets won six straight from March 24-April 3, 2006.
Columbus is on the road for just one game before returning to Nationwide Arena for a three-game homestand. The home stretch begins Tuesday against the Los Angeles Kings.
The Blue Jackets have won their last two on the road and are 11-11-2 as the guest this season.
The Sabres, meanwhile, lost for the fifth time in seven games on Wednesday after dropping a 4-3 shootout decision in Toronto. Buffalo's Cody Hodgson scored 43 seconds into the third period to knot the game at 3-3, but the Maple Leafs scored on all three of their shootout attempts to gain the extra point.
Matt Moulson and Matt Ellis joined Hodgson with a goal apiece for Buffalo, which has lost two straight and is still in last place in the NHL standings. Ryan Miller made 36 saves through regulation and overtime, but James Van Riemsdyk, Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak all scored for Toronto in the shootout phase.
The Sabres have reached the shootout in three of their last four games and Buffalo's last five tilts have been decided by only one goal.
"Third game in four nights, on the road, being down a goal going into the third period," Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said. "I thought our third period was our best period."
Buffalo is kicking off a three-game homestand on Saturday. The Sabres are 9-13-3 on home ice and just 4-14-3 on the road.
The Sabres lost a 4-1 home decision against Columbus on Oct. 10 and the Blue Jackets have won two straight and six of the past nine games in this series. Columbus has come out on top in three of its past five tests in Western New York.
01/18 10:42:15 ET