COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Zemgus Girgensons had a goal and an assist before leaving with a leg injury and the Buffalo Sabres beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2 on Tuesday night.
Cody Hodgson, Mark Pysyk and Chris Stewart also scored for the offense-starved Sabres, who had gotten just one goal in five of their previous six games. They hadn’t had as many as four goals in their last 13 games.
Michal Neuvirth had 45 saves, stymieing the Blue Jackets on their final 28 shots.
The Sabres, with the worst record in the NHL, had lost six of seven (1-4-2).
Matt Calvert and Kevin Connauton scored for the Blue Jackets. Rookie goalie Anton Forsberg remained winless at 0-4-0 while making 27 saves.
James Wisniewski’s hard shot hit Girgensons on the right foot or ankle midway through the second period and the All-Star had to be helped to the dressing room. He did not return.
Buffalo is the NHL’s least productive team, entering Tuesday with 110 goals — 20 fewer than Carolina, which is 29th in scoring. But the Sabres made the Blue Jackets pay for two misplays in the opening period and then kept going.
Hodgson carried the puck up left wing and lobbed a soft backhander at Forsberg. But Forsberg, his catching glove held up long before the shot, somehow misplayed the puck and let it slip out of his glove and between his legs.
Late in a Columbus power play, the Sabres scored again.
Wisniewski touched the puck in the offensive zone with a high stick, the puck popping to center ice. Wisniewski’s defense partner, Cody Goloubef, got caught pinching in, allowing Girgensons to swoop, take the puck and skate in on Forsberg. The goalie came out of his crease to cut down the angle, then fell as he scrambled back into the crease, giving Girgensons an empty net for the short-handed goal.
Columbus cut the lead in half 1:18 into the second period when Calvert netted a close shot off a no-look, backward pass from Brandon Dubinsky.
But the Sabres, who hadn’t scored as many as four goals in their previous 13 games, got two more quick ones to build the lead to 4-1.
Pysyk collected his second of the year, taking a drop pass from Brian Flynn and burying it from the high slot. The Blue Jackets fought off almost 90 seconds of a Buffalo 5-on-3 power play before Stewart’s blast from the left dot pushed the lead to three goals.
On a delayed penalty, with an extra attacker on the ice, Connauton picked up his seventh goal from the right circle after Torrey Mitchell blocked Wisniewski’s shot.
NOTES: Buffalo LW Nicolas Deslauriers played despite an illness. … Dubinsky also played for Columbus after missing the morning skate with an illness. … Sabres rookie D Nikita Zadorov was a healthy scratch for the second straight game after he said he overslept and missed a team meeting. … The Blue Jackets opened a three-game homestand after returning from a five-game trip. … The Sabres, after a home game Thursday night against Vancouver, embark on five-game trip.
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