Bobrovsky stops 38 shots, Blue Jackets top Sabres 4-0
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 38 shots and the Columbus Blue Jackets won their fifth straight by beating the free-falling Buffalo Sabres 4-0 on Sunday night.
The Blue Jackets continued to close in on their third straight playoff berth while entering the final week of the season. With 94 points, they jumped into seventh-place in the Eastern Conference standings, a point ahead of Carolina and two up on idle Montreal.
Bobrovsky took over the NHL lead with his ninth shutout — one more than Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury — and third in five games.
Nick Foligno capped a three-goal first period and Pierre-Luc Dubois scored his 25th and added two assists. Oliver Bjorkstrand and Josh Anderson had a goal each for a Columbus team that has scored four or more in each of its past five, a stretch in which the Blue Jackets have outscored their opponents by a combined 24-4.
The Sabres appeared lifeless in adding yet another dud to what has been a lengthy second-half collapse, and raised further questions as to whether the players have quit on second-year coach Phil Housley.
A large group of fans in the upper level — within earshot of where Sabres general manager Jason Botterill sits — began chanting “Fire Housley” during a break four minutes into the third period.
Buffalo was shut out for the seventh time this season and fifth time in 12 outings.
Linus Ullmark made 32 saves in dropping to 0-6-1 in his past seven — a stretch during which he has allowed 25 goals.
Buffalo was coming off a 5-1 loss at the New York Islanders on Saturday, and dropped to 0-6-1 in its past seven and 1-12-1 over its past 14. The slump actually began in late November after the Sabres briefly took over first place in the overall standings following a 10-game win streak. Buffalo has since gone 14-32-8 in a slide that has tumbled them into 27th overall.
Columbus, playing a night after a 5-2 win at Nashville, was being outshot 7-1 through the first 6:20, before closing the period by scoring three times on its next 12 shots.
Dubois opened the scoring 7:14 in, when Seth Jones’ shot from the right circle banked in off him and into the open left side.
Bjorkstrand scored 6 ½ minutes later by one-timing in Dubois’ pass into the high slot.
Foligno capped the run by drawing Ullmark away from the right post before circling behind the net and wrapping the puck in off the stick of Buffalo defenseman Brandon Montour with 2:13 left.
The Sabres were booed off the ice after each of the first two periods. And one of the louder cheers came when the public address announcer noted there was one minute left in the second period.
Bobrovsky wasn’t really tested until the third period, with his best stops coming eight minutes in. First, he got his blocker up to turn aside Montour’s shot from the right point, and Bobrovsky recovered in time to kick out his right pad in stopping Jeff Skinner attempting to convert the rebound in front.
NOTES: Blue Jackets improved their road record to 23-14-2 and matched the single-season franchise mark for road wins set in 2014-15, when they went 23-15-3. ... Sabres D Jake McCabe returned after missing 13 games with a shoulder injury. ... Blue Jackets have 246 goals, one short of matching franchise single-season record set in 2016-17.
Blue Jackets: Seek to extend season-best five-game home winning streak in regular-season home finale against Boston on Tuesday.
Sabres: Host Nashville Predators on Tuesday.
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