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Streaking Blue Jackets tangle with lowly Sabres

(SportsNetwork.com) - The hottest team in the NHL gets to play the league's basement dwellers on Saturday, as the red-hot Columbus Blue Jackets host the lowly Buffalo Sabres at Nationwide Arena.

Columbus has set a club record with eight straight wins and has vaulted into a playoff spot as a result of the run. The Blue Jackets have made the postseason just once in their history and that playoff appearance in the spring of 2009 resulted in a four-game sweep at the hands of Detroit.

The Blue Jackets are currently sitting third in the Metropolitan Division, with the top-three clubs in each division getting automatic bids to the playoffs. Although Columbus is tied with Philadelphia in points, the Blue Jackets, who beat the Flyers in regulation on Thursday, took control of the third automatic spot in the Metro because they hold the current tiebreaker due to having played two less games than Philly.

The Blue Jackets notched a 5-2 win over the Flyers to record their eighth consecutive triumph. Columbus has scored four or more goals in four straight tilts and is averaging 4.38 scores per game over the course of this winning streak.

Brandon Dubinsky and Nathan Horton scored early in the third period to help the Blue Jackets earn Thursday's win, which came in the franchise's 1,000th game. Jack Johnson, Derek MacKenzie and Matt Calvert also lit the lamp for the Blue Jackets.

Ex-Philadelphia goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky faced his former club for the first time and picked up the win thanks to 26 saves.

The victory also was the club's fifth straight on home ice. Columbus is 14-9-2 as the host this season and is wrapping a three-game homestand on Saturday.

"This is a credit to our players. We've talked as a group about playing better at home and creating an identity," said Columbus head coach Todd Richards.

The Blue Jackets also are 9-1-0 since Horton made his season debut on Jan. 2. Horton, who signed a seven-year, $37.1 million to join Columbus in the offseason, has four goals and three assists in his first 10 games in a Blue Jackets sweater.

While Columbus enters Saturday firing on all cylinders, the Sabres are still stuck in neutral. Buffalo has lost five in a row, six of seven and eight of its last 10 games and the Sabres are dead last in the league with just 33 points through 49 games.

Buffalo lost the first four games on its current slide by identical 4-3 scores and lost a 5-3 decision Thursday against visiting Carolina. Alexander Semin and Andrej Sekera scored 2:25 apart in the third period to lift the Hurricanes to the comeback victory at First Niagara Center. Tyler Ennis gave the Sabres a 3-2 lead 48 seconds into the third, but the Hurricanes scored the game's final three goals to win going away.

"We're finding ways to lose hockey games rather than finding ways to win," said Sabres interim head coach Ted Nolan.

Jhonas Enroth stopped 28 shots for Buffalo, which is 0-3-2 during its current slide. Cody Hodgson and Brian Flynn also scored in the loss.

The Sabres have lost 12 of their last 13 games as the guest and are just 4-14-3 on the road this season. Buffalo is playing two straight and four of its next five tests away from First Niagara Center.

The Blue Jackets are 2-0 against the Sabres this season and will cap the season series tonight at home after playing the previous two tilts in Buffalo. Columbus has won three in a row and seven of the past 10 meetings in this matchup and the Sabres are 1-4-0 with a tie in six all-time trips to Nationwide Arena.

01/25 10:26:52 ET

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Schedule

Thursday, April 17Full Scoreboard
Philadelphia1Final | Box
NY Rangers «4Rink Replay
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game One. New York leads series, 1-0.
Chicago3OT 15:37 | Box
St. Louis3@theRink | TV: NBCSN, CSN-CHI, FSN-MW
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game One.
Minnesota22nd Prd 7:36 | Box
Colorado1@theRink | TV: CNBC, TSN, Altitude
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game One.
Los Angeles01st Prd 11:01 | Box
San Jose1@theRink | TV: NBCSN, CBC, FSN-W
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game One.
Full Scoreboard

Standings

2013 - 2014 NHL Eastern Conference Standings
 
Atlantic Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
p-Boston 54 19 9 117 261 177 31-7-3 23-12-6 18-9-3
x-Tampa Bay 46 27 9 101 240 215 25-10-6 21-17-3 19-8-3
x-Montreal 46 28 8 100 215 204 23-13-5 23-15-3 18-8-4
x-Detroit 39 28 15 93 222 230 18-13-10 21-15-5 17-8-5
Ottawa 37 31 14 88 236 265 18-17-6 19-14-8 14-9-7
Toronto 38 36 8 84 231 256 24-16-1 14-20-7 14-13-3
Florida 29 45 8 66 196 268 16-20-5 13-25-3 13-16-1
Buffalo 21 51 10 52 157 248 13-21-7 8-30-3 7-18-5
 
Metropolitan Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Pittsburgh 51 24 7 109 249 207 28-9-4 23-15-3 20-8-2
x-NY Rangers 45 31 6 96 218 193 20-17-4 25-14-2 16-11-3
x-Philadelphia 42 30 10 94 236 235 24-14-3 18-16-7 15-11-4
x-Columbus 43 32 7 93 231 216 22-15-4 21-17-3 16-13-1
Washington 38 30 14 90 235 240 21-13-7 17-17-7 12-15-3
New Jersey 35 29 18 88 197 208 21-11-9 14-18-9 16-9-5
Carolina 36 35 11 83 207 230 18-17-6 18-18-5 15-13-2
NY Islanders 34 37 11 79 225 267 13-19-9 21-18-2 10-16-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
2013 - 2014 NHL Western Conference Standings
 
Central Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Colorado 52 22 8 112 250 220 26-11-4 26-11-4 19-6-3
x-St. Louis 52 23 7 111 248 191 28-9-4 24-14-3 21-6-2
x-Chicago 46 21 15 107 267 220 27-7-7 19-14-8 13-13-3
x-Minnesota 43 27 12 98 207 206 26-10-5 17-17-7 14-12-3
x-Dallas 40 31 11 91 235 228 23-11-7 17-20-4 13-11-5
Nashville 38 32 12 88 216 242 19-17-5 19-15-7 12-13-4
Winnipeg 37 35 10 84 227 237 18-17-6 19-18-4 9-15-5
 
Pacific Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
z-Anaheim 54 20 8 116 266 209 29-8-4 25-12-4 22-4-3
x-San Jose 51 22 9 111 249 200 29-7-5 22-15-4 18-7-3
x-Los Angeles 46 28 8 100 206 174 23-14-4 23-14-4 16-10-3
Phoenix 37 30 15 89 216 231 22-14-5 15-16-10 14-9-6
Vancouver 36 35 11 83 196 223 20-15-6 16-20-5 12-13-4
Calgary 35 40 7 77 209 241 19-19-3 16-21-4 11-15-3
Edmonton 29 44 9 67 203 270 16-22-3 13-22-6 8-17-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
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Scoreboard
Local
Final
DUR 3
NOR 2
 
Final
PHI 1
ATL 0
Final
DET 7
CLE 5
Final
MIN 7
TOR 0
Final
TEX 8
SEA 6
Final
SFG 1
LOS 2
Final
SDP 1
COL 3
Final
PIT 11
MIL 2
Final
WAS 0
STL 8
Final
TAM 2
NYY 10
Final
MIN 9
TOR 5
 
Final
CWS 1
BOS 3
 
Final
HOU 1
KAN 5
Final
NYR 4
PHI 1
1st OT
STL 3
CHI 3
 
2nd
COL 1
MIN 2
 
1st
SJS 1
LOS 0
 
Final
DUR 3
NOR 2