Sabres Fall to Blue Jackets 4-1

Nick Foligno and Dalton Prout scored 2:09 apart in the second period in the Blue Jackets' 4-1 victory over the Sabres on Friday night.

Brandon Saad, with his 30th of the season, and Matt Calvert also scored for Columbus in a matchup of two teams already eliminated from playoff contention. The Blue Jackets moved into 27th in the standings, a point ahead of Vancouver, and won two in a row for the first time since Feb. 23-27.

Rookie Sam Reinhart scored for the Sabres. They had a three-game winning streak snapped and lost in their home finale.

The loss means the Sabres, with 79 points, can finish no higher than 22nd. It still marks a significant improvement for a rebuilding team that finished last in the standings in each of the past two seasons.

Joonas Korpisalo stopped 24 shots to improve to 16-11-4. Buffalo's Jason Kasdorf made 26 saves in his NHL debut.

The Blue Jackets enjoyed a franchise first on Saad's goal, which put them up 4-1 early in the third period. Saad tied Boone Jenner for the team lead, and marked the first time Columbus has had two players score 30 goals in one season.

The Blue Jackets took advantage of defensive breakdowns to break a 1-1 tie, and a few minutes after Reinhart had scored a power-play goal by deflecting in Jack Eichel's point shot.

Foligno scored with 4:44 left in the second period on a goal that began with teammate Josh Anderson forcing a turnover with a hard hit on Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges along the right boards. Jenner then made a diving stab at the loose puck to nudge into the left circle and up Foligno.

Prout's goal came off an odd-man rush, after Buffalo defender Jake McCabe was caught deep in the Columbus zone. William Karlsson broke up the left wing and fed Prout, who snapped a shot from the high slot to beat Jason high on the glove side.

Kasdorf got the start two weeks after signing an entry level contract with Buffalo after completing his college career at RPI. The Sabres acquired Kasdorf along with Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian as part of a trade with the Winnipeg Jets in February 2015. Also making the NHL debuts were Buffalo forwards Cole Schneider and Evan Rodrigues.

The Sabres elected to give the youngsters a shot at playing in part because the outcome had no impact on the playoff standings. It marked the first time in team history the Sabres have had three players make their career debuts. 

Bogosian sustained a lower body injury in the first period and did not return after he had his head down and ran into Columbus' Brandon Saad in front of the Sabres net. 

NOTES: Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella expects the team to demote several players to their AHL Lake Erie affiliate for their game at nearby Rochester on Saturday night. ... With Kasdorf starting, the Sabres re-assigned goalie Nathan Lieuwen to Rochester of the AHL. ... The Blue Jackets close the season hosting Chicago on Saturday, while Buffalo travels to play at the Islanders. ... The Sabres announced end-of-season awards, as voted on by the players, with Ryan O'Reilly named the team's MVP and backup goalie Chad Johnson named unsung hero.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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