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Buffalo at Columbus

Sabres 5, Blue Jackets 4

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With their astonishing second-half turnaround propelling them into the postseason complete, the focus for the Buffalo Sabres is making sure franchise goalie Ryan Miller is rested enough to backstop a long playoff run.

Miller played the first half of the game, Paul Gaustad scored the winner late on a power play, and four other Buffalo players scored as the Sabres held on to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4 on Saturday night in the season finale for both teams.

Buffalo enters the playoffs as the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres could have moved up to sixth, but Montreal beat Toronto 4-1.

Eastern Conference
SeedTeamGPPTSROW
1z-Pittsburgh487233
2y-Montreal486326
3y-Washington485724
4x-Boston486224
5x-Toronto485726
6x-N.Y. Rangers485622
7x-Ottawa485621
8x-N.Y. Islanders485520
Eliminated
9o-Winnipeg485122
10o-Philadelphia484922
11o-New Jersey484817
12o-Buffalo484814
13o-Carolina484218
14o-Tampa Bay484017
15o-Florida483612
Complete Playoff Race >>

It was the second straight game Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff has limited Miller to 30 minutes of action, easing him back into the lineup after he missed four games with an upper-body injury.

"Lindy wanted to make sure I could get tested then get me out of there to give me some more time to practice and prepare, and not risk anything," said Miller, who allowed one goal on 21 shots. "I felt good. My awareness is better. That goal against I wanted to get to my net a little cleaner."

Jhonas Enroth closed it out for the Sabres in a wild game.

"It was a game we wanted to make sure we got through and nobody got hurt," Ruff said.

With the game tied 3-3, Drew Stafford and Gaustad, who also had an assist, scored on a five-minute major to former Buffalo captain Craig Rivet for cross-checking Tyler Ennis.

Jason Pominville added a goal and an assist, and Chris Butler and Ennis also scored for the Sabres, who went 28-11-6 since Jan. 1 to earn the most points in the East during that span.

"You obviously want to produce and help out," said Brad Boyes, who tied a career high with three assists. "Now going into the playoffs hopefully it helps out."

Kristian Huselius scored twice, and Derek Dorsett and Jared Boll also scored for Columbus, which finished the season with three regulation wins over its last 22 games. The Blue Jackets did put up the second-highest point total (81) in franchise history.

It seemed as if the streaking Sabres were going to pull away after they took a 3-1 lead with three consecutive scores in the second period, but the Blue Jackets rallied and Huselius tied it early in the third on a snap shot.

"We had lots of chances to get the lead before the penalty [to Rivet]," Columbus coach Scott Arniel said.

The game turned for good when Rivet cracked his former teammate and was ejected at 11:44.

Stafford scored a highlight-reel goal, spinning in front of Mason and flipping in his 31st of the season on the power play.

Gaustad followed a minute later with a redirection.

Huselius scored with the advantage with 23 seconds left.

The Blue Jackets struck first early in the second frame with Dorsett beating Miller on the wraparound.

"We were a little sloppy in the first period," Ruff said. "I thought our game looked good after that."

Buffalo responded 3 minutes later with Pominville blasting a one-timer from the high slot for his 22nd.

On a relentless forecheck all night, the Sabres stole the puck and scored again midway through the period before Butler fired a slap shot from the left circle past Mason.

Stafford forced another turnover leading to an easy goal for Ennis -- his 20th -- from in front at 15:12.

Boll cut the lead to 3-2 a minute later, stuffing home a rebound after a drive to the net by Matt Calvert.

"It was a good game, a good finish," Buffalo defenseman Tyler Meyers said. "Good way to end the year for us to get a win on the road going into the first round."

Notes

Last season, Buffalo won the Northeast Division and was the East's third seed. ... The Blue Jackets were swept by the Red Wings in the first round of their only playoff appearance two seasons ago. ... Columbus RW Rick Nash missed the final six games because of a back injury. ... Sabres leading-scorer Thomas Vanek, who netted the overtime winner against Philadelphia on Friday night in a game that clinched a playoff berth, was a healthy scratch. ... The announced crowd on Fan Appreciation Night was 18,717, the Blue Jackets' sixth sellout of the season. ... Buffalo won for the first time in Columbus in five games.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Scoreboard
Buffalo  (43-29-10) «0325
Columbus (34-35-13)0224
Three Stars
J. Pominville
BUF


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
B. Boyes
BUF


Goals: 0
Assist(s): 3
K. Huselius
CLB


Goals: 2
Assist(s): 0
Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
None
2ND PERIOD
04:15 - Derek Dorsett (4), Wrap Shot. Assist: Pahlsson, Clark
07:18 - Jason Pominville (22), Slap Shot. Assist: Montador, Boyes
11:51 - Chris Butler (2), Slap Shot. Assist: Gaustad, Mancari
15:12 - Tyler Ennis (20), Wrist Shot. Assist: Boyes
16:32 - Jared Boll (7), Backhand Shot. Assist: Calvert, MacKenzie
3RD PERIOD
02:37 - Kristian Huselius (13), Snap Shot. Assist: Vermette, Lepisto
12:11Power Play - Drew Stafford (31), Backhand Shot. Assist: Pominville, Gragnani
13:12Power Play - Paul Gaustad (12), Wrist Shot. Assist: Boyes, Myers
19:37Power Play - Kristian Huselius (14), Wrist Shot. Assist: Clitsome, Brassard
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
07:12Morrisonn, 2 min, Cross-Checking
2ND PERIOD
04:31Mancari, 2 min, Tripping
07:26Clark, 2 min, Holding the Stick
17:46Morrisonn, 2 min, Hooking
3RD PERIOD
11:44Ennis, 2 min, Slashing
11:44Rivet, 2 min, Roughing
11:44Rivet, 2 min, Cross-Checking
11:44Rivet, 10 min, Game Misconduct
19:11Weber, 2 min, Tripping
Shots On Goal
 123T
BUF8121030
CLB1116936
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Jhonas Enroth29:28123
Ryan Miller30:32201
Steve Mason58:20255
Game Information
Attendance - 18717
Referees - Rob Martell, Steve Kozari
Linesmen - Bryan Pancich, Vaughan Rody
 
Other Games
NJ 2 Final
NYR 5
Ott 1 Final
Bos 3
TB 6 Final
Car 2
NYI 4 Final
Phi 7
Mon 4 Final
Tor 1
Wash 0 Final
Fla 1
Nash 0 Final
StL 2
Van 3 Final
OT
Cal 2
Ana 3 Final
LA 1
Pho 1 Final
SJ 3