With the game tied 3-3 in overtime, Nick Foligno stole the puck from Buffalo’s Jack Eichel at the back boards and passed out to Alexandre Texier skating free through the right circle. The rookie sealed the first win of the season for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The 20-year-old Texier’s snap shot past Linus Ullmark 2:08 into overtime lifted Columbus to a 4-3 win over Buffalo on Monday night. It also gave the Blue Jackets a much-needed shot of confidence after losing their first two games by a combined score of 10-3.
“(Foligno) came out with the puck — he did a great job,” Texier said. “I was alone in the middle.”
After going up 2-0 in the first period, Columbus let the Sabres climb back in. With the Blue Jackets leading 3-2 late, Buffalo pulled its goalie on a power play to create a 6-on-4 advantage and got a goal from Victor Olofsson to tie the score.
That set the stage for Texier’s heroics.
“Well deserved,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “He was probably our best forward, our most consistent forward tonight.”
Foligno, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Cam Atkinson also scored for the Blue Jackets, who outshot Buffalo 44-18. Joonas Korpisalo had 15 saves.
Marcus Johansson and Jeff Skinner added goals for Buffalo, and Ullmark, making his first start of the season, had 40 saves.
“We’ve just got recharge, be a little bit sour about the loss today,” Ullmark said. “It’s going to be a new day tomorrow. There’s nothing else to it.”
It was the first loss for Buffalo.
“After a couple of games where everything went our way, we struggled to find our game, especially in the first period,” coach Ralph Krueger said. “Linus gave us a chance. We still showed character tonight to come back from two down, thanks to Linus buying us some time.”
Bjorkstrand, playing in his 200th NHL game, got his first goal of the season with 1:51 left in the first when he grabbed a carom off the back boards and shot from a sharp angle, bouncing the puck in off Ullmark’s back.
The Blue Jackets struck again quickly when Atkinson — just 9 seconds into a power play — scored from the bottom of the right circle off a sharp behind-the-net feed from Alexander Wennberg.
Early in the second period, it was Buffalo’s turn to capitalize on a power play. Johansson, signed as an unrestricted free agent in the summer, got his first goal with the Sabres on a one-timer from the right circle to cut Columbus’ lead to 2-1.
Skinner tied the score for Buffalo later in the second when he picked Ryan Murray’s pocket in the defensive zone on the Blue Jackets’ transition and rifled a shot past Korpisalo from 30 feet.
“The second period showed fight and the willingness to try to fix a night that’s difficult and get used to playing some close games, because we’re going to have a lot this year,” Krueger said.
Foligno batted in a bouncing puck amid heavy traffic to give Columbus the lead again on a power play 6:46 into the third and then had the helper in OT.
“To win it this way,” Tortorella said, “I think it gives you some juice.”
NOTES: Columbus F Sonny Milano replaced Josh Anderson, who was injured Saturday in a 7-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. … Blue Jackets D Markus Nutivaara replaced Dean Kukan after being a healthy scratch Saturday. … Columbus rookie F Emil Bemstrom got his first NHL point with an assist on Foligno’s goal.
Sabres: Host Montreal on Wednesday night.
Blue Jackets: Host Anaheim on Friday night.
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