Buffalo moved within three points of the Islanders in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have three games remaining, and the Islanders’ magic number is four points.
“They’ve got to be feeling a little heat now,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “We want to put a lot of pressure on them.”
“It’s as tight as it’s ever been,” Biron said. “We’ve clawed ourselves back there. And we’ve got to look at it as a little step. But you haven’t done anything until you close the deal.”
The Sabres, who next play at the New York Rangers on Wednesday, are also feeling anxious, hoping their run isn’t coming too late.
“There’s a lot of stress and anxiety involved,” Sabres defenseman Jay McKee said. “We’ve just got to keep this thing going, our goal is to win out.”
The Blue Jackets, shut out for the 11th time this season, had a four-game winning streak snapped. The 4-year-old franchise has never won five straight.
The Sabres took control early and kept pressing, making up for their last game—Saturday’s 2-2 tie at Pittsburgh in which Buffalo blew a 2-0 lead.
Kalinin and Roy scored 2:09 apart, putting the Sabres ahead 2-0 by the 8:16 mark of the first period, and before Columbus registered its second shot on net.
Kalinin’s first goal was an opportunistic one when his centering pass, intended for Mike Grier, bounced in off Columbus defenseman Scott Lachance’s skate. Roy made good on Afinogenov’s pass into the high slot, one-timing it in from 30 feet to beat Fred Brathwaite on the glove side.
The Blue Jackets were outshot 7-0 when Kalinin scored and 9-1 on Roy’s goal. Columbus was outshot 15-6 in the first period and 39-23 overall.
The Sabres didn’t stop there in matching a season high by earning their third six-goal victory of the season.
Kalinin made it 3-0, scoring a short-handed goal to cap a three-on-one break seven minutes into the second period. The Sabres then took advantage of a demoralized Blue Jackets’ opponent, scoring three times on 16 shots in the third.
“I think we knew they would come out hard. They’re fighting for their lives,” Columbus defenseman Luke Richardson said. “They kept it up and we didn’t recover. There’s no excuse.”
Biron had a relative easy time in earning his milestone victory. His best stop came when he stopped Rick Nash’s hard slapper from the right circle during a Blue Jackets’ two-man advantage in the second period.
“It’s another step forward,” said Biron, 5-0-1 in his last six outings. “It’s a step forward personally and a step forward collectively with the waywe’ve handled things right now.”
Columbus C Todd Marchant did not play after straining his groin Saturday at Nashville. He is day-to-day. … Kalinin had the first two-goal game by a Buffalo defenseman since Jason Woolley scored twice against Florida on April 2, 2001. Alexei Zhitnik was the last Sabres defenseman to score twice at home: also against Florida on March 19, 1998. … Sabres C Chris Drury helped set up both Kalinin goals to record his 200th career assist and 326th point. Drury also extended his point streak to three games, a span in which he’s had two goals and four assists. … The Blue Jackets won four straight inNovember 2000, during the franchise’s inaugural season.