Sabres head into break with 3-1 win over Blue Jackets

Reuters

Kyle Okposo notched a goal and an assist and rookie goalie Linus Ullmark stopped 44 shots to lead the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night in Buffalo.

It's the Sabres' first victory since the calendar flipped to 2018, snapping a five-game losing skid for the Eastern Conference's last-place team, and the perfect way for Buffalo (11-24-9) to go into its bye week.

Ullmark lost his shutout bid late in the game, but was tremendous all night, stopping 33 shots over the final two periods while the Blue Jackets pushed. Moreover, he received just enough scoring.

The downtrodden Sabres received a huge early boost when Benoit Pouliot snapped a 10-game goal-scoring drought just past the midway point of the first period.

Okposo intercepted a clearing attempt and, after a give-and-go, fired a long shot on net, where Pouliot was on the spot for the rebound and slipped the puck past Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

The Sabres went to the first intermission holding a lead for only the eighth time this season. It's only the second time this season the Sabres have won when leading after 20 minutes.

Okposo then provided some much-needed insurance just before the midway point of the third period thanks to a fortunate bounce. Bobrovsky headed behind his net to play a puck that had been dumped into the zone only to see it take a strange hop off the end boards right to Okposo, who simply had to push it into an empty net.

Jack Eichel sealed the game with an empty-netter.

Artermi Panarin put the Blue Jackets on the board with six minutes remaining, but that's as close as his team could get.

Bobrovsky made 26 saves for the Blue Jackets (25-17-3), who return home to meet the Vancouver Canucks on Friday.

The news wasn't all good for Buffalo, though. Defenseman Zach Bogosian will be out of action four-to-six weeks due to a leg injury suffered in practice on Wednesday. Bogosian has played just 18 games this season, having missed the first two months due to injury

--Field Level Media

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