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5 Observations: Sabres beat Blue Jackets 5-3

5 Observations: Sabres beat Blue Jackets 5-3
Posted at 10:26 PM, Mar 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-11 22:26:13-05

The cardiac kids have returned. On Saturday the Buffalo Sabres snapped their four-game losing streak, topping the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-3.

Five observations from Saturday's win:

Well that's pretty neat

Talk about a role reversal. Lately, the Sabres have been the team surrendering the lead, not the team storming back late in the game to come from behind for the win.

The last two weeks have been a nightmare for the Sabres but on Saturday they gave Buffalo something to smile about, scoring five unanswered goals to complete a truly impressive comeback. This isn't a win that's going to save the season, but if the Sabres can string together some good hockey they'll have something to build off moving forward.

Disaster start

As the first period came to an end KeyBank Center erupted in boos after one of the Sabres worst periods of the season. It was almost like WWE superstar Roman Reigns was in the building. If you don't get the reference, it just means there were boos. Lots of boos. Buffalo was doubled up in shots 12-6 and found themselves trailing 3-0.

For whatever reason, the Sabres just looked flat and the Blue Jackets took advantage of every opportunity they could get. Columbus' first goal came off a gorgeous shot from defenseman David Savard, who beat Sabres goaltender Anders Nilsson top-shelf. Just minutes later Jackets forward Nick Foligno made Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe, who is usually pretty solid in his own end, look silly, finishing off a gorgeous highlight-reel goal.

As the period was coming to an end the Blue Jackets completed the trifecta on an Oliver Bjorkstrand (that's fun to spell) tap in goal. To say the Blue Jackets dominated the first 20-minutes may be an understatement.

Not Nilsson's night (cheers to alliteration)

The Sabres backup could've certainly gotten some more help, but on Saturday he really struggled and it cost the Sabres big time. Sometimes it's just not your night and on Saturday that seemed to be the case.

Nilsson has been a very capable backup goaltender this season but allowing three goals on 12 shots just isn't going cut it. Robin Lehner took over the goaltending at the start of the second period and played fantastic. 

That escalated quickly

It may be safe to say that no one in KeyBank Center saw that one coming. After a terribly slow start for the Sabres, they came out in the second period looking like a different team.

They nearly doubled their shot total from the first period [11 second period shots] and erased a three-goal deficit, tying things up at 3 with 2.9 seconds remaining in the middle frame.

Aside from the three goals from McCabe, Moulson, and Reinhart, Lehner deserves major credit for coming into the game cold and playing exceptionally well. Understandably, the Sabres needed to generate offense, so they spent a lot of the period pinching into the Columbus' zone. While at times it worked, they got caught several times, giving up multiple odd-man rushes. Lehner was up to the task and stopped every shot he faced in the second and third periods. 

The Sabres desperately needed to respond and they did.

McCabe giveth, McCabe taketh

After a very slow start, McCabe really solidified his game in the second and third period. 18 seconds into the second frame McCabe partially redeemed himself, getting the Sabres on the board with a shot from the point that hit the post and went in.

Minutes later, McCabe rang another shot off the iron on a play where the Sabres eventually drew a penalty. Matt Moulson scored on the man-advantage.

McCabe's job is to be a good, solid two-way defender. When he can contribute offensively that's a bonus, but in the final 40 minutes, he looked like the player at both ends of the ice that the Sabres need him to be moving forward.