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Blue Jackets beat Sabres 3-1 in season opener

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Cam Atkinson scored the tiebreaking goal on a third-period power play, and the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 in the season opener for both teams Thursday night.

Artem Anisimov and Jack Skille also scored for the Blue Jackets, who got 21 saves from Sergei Bobrovsky. Atkinson snapped a 1-all tie with 7:15 remaining.

Zemgus Girgensons scored for Buffalo, and Jhonas Enroth made 37 saves.

Sabres owner Terry Pegula was in the building one day after being unanimously approved as the new owner of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

The Sabres had the worst record in the NHL by 14 points last season. Columbus made the playoffs as a wild card in the Eastern Conference.

Bobrovsky made a strong right blocker save on Andre Benoit early in the first period and was forced to make a point-blank save on Chris Stewart moments later as Buffalo reeled off four straight shots.

For his part, Enroth made a pair of in-close saves during the Blue Jackets’ first power play and benefited from a shot that hit the post.

Buffalo’s second overall draft pick, Sam Reinhart, was hit hard near the midway point of the first by Blue Jackets right wing Jared Boll, who soon found himself face-to-face with Mike Weber. Both took roughing penalties.

Scott Hartnell redirected a shot off the crossbar late in the first, and Enroth stopped Mark Letestu on a 1-on-1 before the period expired.

Buoyed by three early power plays, Columbus outshot Buffalo 12-7 in the first period and had a 40-22 advantage for the game.

Skille scored first at 13:21 of the second period. Skating down the right side, he took a snap shot that beat Enroth high, popping the lid off the goalie’s water bottle and sending liquid flying through the air behind the net.

Girgensons countered just more than a minute later when he stickhandled his way through the Blue Jackets’ defense before flipping a puck past Bobrovsky.

The Sabres earned their first power play when Fedor Tyutin took a hooking penalty at 9:09 of the third. That was interrupted by a hooking call to Brian Gionta, and Atkinson made the most of Columbus’ fourth power play by maneuvering around Benoit and beating Enroth at 12:45.

Anisimov capped the scoring on a soft wrist shot with just more than 2 minutes to play.

NOTES: Only six current Sabres were on the opening-day roster two years ago. … Blue Jackets left wing Nick Foligno was born in Buffalo and is the older brother of Sabres left wing Marcus Foligno … The game was the first as Sabres captain for Gionta, a Rochester native.

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