COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Coach Ted Nolan is tired of the negativity surrounding the Buffalo Sabres, even when they do something positive.
Zemgus Girgensons had a goal and an assist before leaving with a leg injury and Nolan's Sabres, with the worst record in the NHL, found a rare burst of offense to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2 on Tuesday night.
''Every time we win, there's a reason and an excuse why we win,'' Nolan said when asked if his team had taken advantage of two mistakes by rookie Columbus goalie Anton Forsberg. ''There's excuses when we lose, too. So, they say, `Hey, they've got a weak goalie.' And that's how we won. But a win's a win and we'll be happy with it.''
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 had lost six of seven (1-4-2). The league's least productive team, they entered Tuesday with 110 goals - 20 fewer than Carolina, which is 29th in scoring. But they made the Blue Jackets pay for Forsberg's two misplays in the opening period and then kept going.
Hodgson carried the puck up left wing and lobbed a soft backhander at Forsberg midway through the opening period. But Forsberg, his catching glove held up long before the shot, somehow fumbled the puck and let it slip out of his glove and between his legs.
Late in a Columbus power play, the Sabres scored again.
The Blue Jackets' James Wisniewski touched the puck in the offensive zone with a high stick, the puck popping to center ice. Wisniewski's defensive partner, Cody Goloubef, got caught pinching in, allowing Girgensons to swoop in, take the puck and skate in on Forsberg. The goalie came out to cut down the angle, then fell as he scrambled back to the net, giving Girgensons an unobstructed shot for the short-handed goal.
''The two goals took some of the wind out of our sails,'' said Columbus coach Todd Richards. ''It's a team game. The goaltender isn't always perfect. There's games when pucks get behind him and as a group in front of him, we've got to do a better job of picking him up.''
Forsberg remained winless in the NHL (0-4-0) while making 27 saves.
Meanwhile, Neuvirth, who came in with a 4-16-3 record, was terrific all night.
''We got a couple of bounces in our favor,'' he said. ''It was a different feeling. (I am) definitely not used to protecting a lead.''
After Matt Calvert scored off a nifty feed from Brandon Dubinsky early in the second period to cut the lead to 2-1, the Sabres came right back on Pysyk's second goal just 42 seconds later.
''I came up a little bit late,'' the rookie defenseman said. ''I made sure (center Brian Flynn) heard me; I was yelling pretty loud. And I just tried to get it on net and it went in off a defenseman.''
Columbus never got closer than two goals again.
The Sabres lost Girgensons and his right wing on the top line, Tyler Ennis, also with a lower-body injury. Girgensons blocked a hard shot by Wisniewski and had to be helped off the ice and into the dressing room. He did not return.
Nolan said both forwards would be evaluated on Wednesday.
''(Girgensons has) been a big part of our team all year. It was tough to see him go down,'' said Hodgson. ''And then also with Tyler. Those are two big components of our team. We were fortunate to get the win tonight and hopefully they'll be OK tomorrow.''
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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