BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Rookie Victor Olofsson scored his second goal of the game 2:44 into overtime, and the Buffalo Sabres beat the depleted Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 on Thursday night.
Jack Eichel had a goal and and two assists for Buffalo on a night when the Sabres honored members of their 2000 decade teams as part of the franchise’s season-long 50th anniversary celebrations. Evan Rodrigues also scored, and Carter Hutton stopped 28 shots to improve to 4-1 in his past five starts.
The Blue Jackets dropped to 0-1-2 in their past three games in their worst skid since losing four straight from Nov. 30 to Dec. 7.
Columbus squandered a 2-0 lead, but salvaged a point on Markus Nutivaara’s tap-in goal with 1:13 remaining in regulation. Nathan Gerbe and Boone Jenner also scored for the Blue Jackets, who lost 2-1 to Buffalo in overtime on Feb. 1.
Matiss Kivlenieks stopped 23 shots, but he had little chance on Olofsson’s decisive score.
Eichel gained the Blue Jackets zone by driving up the left wing. He then headed below the goal line before dropping a pass to Olofsson, who one-timed it in from the slot.
Olofsson upped his total to 18 goals after tying it at 2 with a power-play goal 2:10 into the third period, when he one-timed Eichel’s cross-ice pass into the right circle. Olofsson had missed 15 games with a sprained left ankle.
Columbus jumped in front by scoring twice in 1:59 spanning the first intermission. Gerbe capped an odd-man rush with 28 seconds left in the first. Then Jenner tipped in Zach Werenski’s shot from the left point in the second.
The Blue Jackets dropped to 22-5-4 when scoring first and 13-2-4 when leading through two periods.
The Blue Jackets were playing their second game since losing top defenseman Seth Jones and one of their top scorers, Cam Atkinson, to injuries.
Jones, who is fourth on the team with 30 points, will miss the remainder of the season with an ankle injury, while Atkinson will be sidelined for two to three weeks with a lower-body injury.
Columbus is already missing Brandon Dubinsky, who has missed the entire season with a wrist injury, and starting goalie Joonas Korpisalo, who has resumed practicing, but missed his 19th game with a knee injury.
Liam Foudy picked up his first NHL point in his second game with an assist on Jenner’s goal. The 2018 first-round draft pick was called up on an emergency basis from his Ontario Hockey League team in London. He is expected to return to juniors following the game.
REMEMBERING THE 2000s
The Sabres honored members of their teams from the 2000s during a pregame ceremony.
Among the former players in attendance were co-captain Daniel Briere, Jason Pominville, Jay McKee and Rhett Warrener, who was a member of the Sabres team that lost to Dallas in the 1999 Stanley Cup Final.
Also on hand was former owner Thomas Golisano, who prevented the franchise from relocating by purchasing it out of bankruptcy in the spring of 2003. The Sabres were forced into bankruptcy after the NHL took control of the team from John Rigas, who was eventually convicted of looting his television cable system, Adelphia.
The Sabres produced a video broadcast on the scoreboard personally thanking Golisano for preserving the team in Buffalo.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman attended the game to be with Golisano, and both were presented golden Sabres pucks for their stewardship of the team.
NOTES: Blue Jackets D David Savard played after rejoining the team in Buffalo following the birth of his son on Tuesday. … The Sabres sent F Scott Wilson to the minors, with Olofsson and Kyle Okposo (upper body) activated off injured reserve. … Sabres LW Marcus Johansson did not play and is listed day to day with upper body injury.
Blue Jackets: Host the New York Rangers on Friday night.
Sabres: Host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday night to close a four-game homestand.