NHL

Sabres, Jackets back at it again in Buffalo

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- John Tortorella is a glass-half-full coach.

The last two games for the Columbus Blue Jackets have not been the team's best efforts of late, yet, somehow they've found a way to win those games and continue a hot streak that started last month when they came off their five-day break.

Against New Jersey on Tuesday, they scored both goals in the third period to beat the Devils 2-0. Then, on Friday, the Blue Jackets squander two leads to the struggling Buffalo Sabres, only to get a game-winner from Boone Jenner with 5:07 left in third to pull out a 4-3 win at Nationwide Arena.

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"I think it's a good sign you still find a way to win a game, when you certainly know -- and that's an important thing -- I think the players know they weren't that good" on Friday, Tortorella said.

Now, the Sabres and Blue Jackets head to KeyBank Center Saturday for the tail-end of the home-and-home series.

Columbus left winger Nick Foligno, who scored his fifth goal in Columbus' last eight home games Friday night, understands Tortorella's message. The Blue Jackets captain said the team didn't play a complete game Friday, and that allowed the Sabres to be tied with them late in the game.

"Going into their barn tomorrow, they're fighting for their playoff lives," said Foligno, whose power play goal Friday gave him a team-best 11 on the season. "So, we understand that we need to bring a better game."

With one more win, Columbus will set a franchise record for both wins and points in the regular season.

With Friday's loss, the Sabres have now lost three straight and just won two of their last 10 games. Time is beginning to run out for Buffalo, which now finds itself nine points behind the New York Islanders for the final wild card spot. The Sabres have just 14 games to make up that ground and four teams ahead of them.

"We played a hard game, battled hard in this game and did a lot of good things, but came up on the short end," Buffalo coach Dan Bylsma said.

Defense continues to be an issue for the Sabres, as they have been outscored 39-29 in their last 10 games. On Friday, it was the special teams that let the Sabres down as they gave up two power-play goals in one game for the first time since a 2-1 loss at New Jersey on Feb. 6.

"Our job is to go out there and make sure they don't score," said defenseman Josh Gorges about the penalty kill unit. "Whatever the circumstances may be of how they get them, there's usually a breakdown somewhere along the lines, and we didn't do our jobs properly."

Gorges, who scored his first goal of the season Friday, was thinking along the same lines as Tortorella after the game. Winning games is all that should matter at this point.

"Doesn't matter if you play an ugly game," the Sabres assistant captain said. "You get two points, that's the job, and it doesn't matter if you play a good game and you fall short. You didn't get the job done. Tonight was that way."