Panarin's overtime tally powers Blue Jackets over Sabres 5-4
By MITCH STACY, AP Sports Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Columbus coach John Tortorella had trouble explaining how his team could blow a two-goal lead in the third period Saturday night only to come back and win 31 seconds into overtime. Finally, he resorted to quoting Forrest Gump.
“It’s a box of chocolates — you just never know what you’re going to get from shift to shift at certain times,” Tortorella said. “I guess that’s just what the game is.”
Panarin’s shot from the left circle glanced off the far post and into the net to give the Blue Jackets a 5-4 victory over the Buffalo Sabres, who had scored a pair of goals in a two-minute span of the third period to erase the deficit and force the extra period.
That all came after Cam Atkinson scored two goals in 31 seconds of the second period to give Columbus what looked like a comfortable lead.
“I just don’t understand it sometimes,” Tortorella said. “But we found a way to get two points.”
Atkinson and Panarin each had two goals and an assist, and Pierre Luc-Dubois had a goal and a pair of assists, including the pass to Panarin low in the circle that set up the overtime goal.
Joonas Korpisalo stopped 34 shots and is undefeated in four starts for the Blue Jackets, who won their second straight and ended a three-game winning streak for Buffalo.
Jeff Skinner and Jason Pominville each had a goal and an assist, and backup goalie Linus Ullmark — who previously had given up just one goal in two starts this season — had 32 saves for Buffalo.
Kyle Okposo got his third goal of the season for Buffalo 1:38 into the game on a 2-on-1 rush. Dubois evened it with a snipe from the middle of the right circle later in the first, with Panarin getting his fourth primary assist in the past two games.
Skinner got a fortunate deflection right onto his stick at the bottom of the right circle and slipped the puck between Korpisalo and the near post to get his team-leading sixth goal and make it 2-1 Sabres at the end of the first.
Dubois returned the favor to his linemate early in the second with a feed that led to Panarin’s finish from the left circle to tie it again.
Atkinson’s pair in the second period gave Columbus a 4-2 lead, but Buffalo got goals in the third from Pominville and then Casey Middelstadt on a power play to even the score and set up Panarin’s overtime heroics.
“He’s one of the best players in the league, and it kind of showed in this game,” Ullmark said. “It was a good shot.”
Buffalo was trying to win four straight for the first time since 2014. It didn’t happen, but coach Phil Housley was pleased with the effort.
“I have to give credit to our guys for finding a way to battle back,” he said. “We would have loved to have won that game in overtime, but getting a point after being two down in the third period says a lot about our group.”
NOTES: Atkinson’s fifth and sixth tallies of the season in a 31-second span of the second period broke a franchise record for quickest back-to-back goals…. Sabres F Evan Rodrigues missed the game because he returned to Buffalo for personal reasons. … The Blue Jackets had a three-goal second period for the second straight game and the fifth time this season. … Columbus F Markus Hannikainen replaced Sonny Milano for the second straight game. … Pominville has four goals and four assists in the last four games.
Buffalo: Hosts Calgary on Tuesday night.
Columbus: Hosts Detroit on Tuesday night.
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