Foligno, Prout score in Blue Jackets 4-1 win over Sabres
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno can look beyond the frustration of Columbus closing yet another season out of playoff contention and see a brighter future.
It began with rookie Joonas Korpisalo stopping 34 shots, including 17 in the second period. And it continued with Brandon Saad scoring his 30th goal as part of a 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night in a matchup of two teams out of playoff contention.
''You need to see your youth be able to contribute, especially when you're not where you want to be,'' said Foligno, who broke a 1-1 tie with 4:44 left in the second period. ''It's only going to bode well for us going forward as an organization.''
Saad's goal provided the Blue Jackets a franchise first. The fifth-year player tied Boone Jenner for the team lead, and marked the first time Columbus has had two players score 30 goals in one season.
''He's a huge part of our team and I'm glad,'' coach John Tortorella said of Saad. ''Although we're done after tomorrow, it's nice for those guys to have those types of milestones. And we expect more of it when we get going next year.''
It hasn't been an easy season for the Blue Jackets, who opened with an eight-game losing skid that cost coach Todd Richards his job. The overhaul continued with the team trading top-line forward Ryan Johansen to Nashville on Jan. 6.
Matt Calvert and Dalton Prout also scored for Columbus, which closes hosting Chicago on Saturday. The Blue Jackets moved into 27th in the standings, a point ahead of Vancouver, and won two in a row for the first time since Feb. 23-27.
Rookie Sam Reinhart scored for the Sabres in their home finale. Buffalo (34-36-11), which closes at the New York Islanders on Saturday, had a three-game winning streak snapped and blew an opportunity to finish a season with as many regulation wins as losses.
The Sabres can finish no higher than 22nd, though it still marks a significant improvement for a rebuilding team that finished last in the standings in each of the past two seasons.
''Not the way wanted to finish,'' Sabres captain Brian Gionta said. ''I think at times our starts, we're asleep at times.''
The game turned late in the second period when Foligno and Prout scored 2:09 apart, and shortly after Reinhart scored a power-play goal to tie the game at 1.
Foligno scored a goal that began with teammate Josh Anderson forcing a turnover with a hard hit on Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges along the right boards. Jenner then made a diving stab at the loose puck to nudge into the left circle and up Foligno.
Prout's goal came off an odd-man rush, after Buffalo defender Jake McCabe was caught deep in the Columbus zone. William Karlsson broke up the left wing and fed Prout, who snapped a shot from the high slot to beat Jason Kasdorf high on the glove side.
Kasdorf got the start two weeks after signing an entry level contract with Buffalo after completing his college career at RPI. The Sabres acquired Kasdorf along with Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian as part of a trade with the Winnipeg Jets in February 2015. Also making the NHL debuts were Buffalo forwards Cole Schneider and Evan Rodrigues.
Tortorella has been particularly impressed with the poise Korpisalo has shown in going 16-11-4, filling in for starter Sergei Bobrovsky, who's missed lengthy stretches because of a nagging groin injury.
''I think we have a pretty good idea of what he is with the body of work,'' Tortorella said. ''I just like the way he handles himself.''
Bogosian sustained a lower body injury in the first period and did not return after he had his head down and ran into Saad in front of the Sabres net.
NOTES: Columbus closed its road schedule with three straight wins and a 16-23-2 record. ... With Kasdorf starting, the Sabres re-assigned goalie Nathan Lieuwen to Rochester of the AHL. ... The Sabres announced end-of-season awards, as voted on by the players, with Ryan O'Reilly named the team's MVP and backup goalie Chad Johnson named unsung hero.