BUFFALO, N.Y. – A quick start paid off for the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.
Marian Gaborik had a goal and two assists and the Blue Jackets kept the Buffalo Sabres winless with a 4-1 victory.
Cam Atkinson, Nick Foligno and Brandon Dubinsky also scored for Columbus. Sergei Bobrovsky made 26 saves for the Blue Jackets.
“Guys played hard,” Bobrovsky said. “They blocked shots. They played good systematically in the zone. They played really well.”
The Blue Jackets scored three first-period goals to get the early edge on Buffalo.
“When you’re struggling, there’s doubt,” Columbus coach Todd Richards said. “As a team that comes in, you need to create that doubt, help bring it back.”
Thomas Vanek scored for Buffalo and Ryan Miller stopped 29 of 33 shots for the Sabres, who fell to 0-4-1 on the season.
It’s the club’s worst start since they went 0-5-2 to open the 1999-2000 season.
The Sabres have scored just five times in their first five games.
“We have guys in here that can make plays,” Miller said. “We just have to get past this little hump we’re having trouble with and you can’t just work hard get a puck and not do anything with it. We have to start doing things with it.”
Miller was playing his first game since injuring his groin last Friday against the Ottawa Senators.
Atkinson opened the scoring with a goal at 1:51 of the first. Gaborik and James Wisniewski had the assists.
“We were fortunate to get one on our first shift of the game and any time that happens it gives you a little confidence, a little extra jump in your step,” Dubinsky said.
The Sabres tied the game on Vanek’s second goal of the season at 8:50 of the first.
The goal was the 252nd of his career and moves him into a tie with Craig Ramsay for fifth on the team’s goal scoring list.
“There was some creativity out there,” Miller said. “We had a nice first goal and some other good plays, mostly because were moving our feet and the game was faster.”
Foligno put the Blue Jackets back ahead 2-1 at 16:35 of the first on a backhand past Miller. And Gaborik got his second of the season at 18:48 to make it 3-1.
Dubinsky scored at 2:11 of the second for his first goal of the season to make it 4-1. Gaborik and David Savard had the assists.
The line of Gaborik, Dubinsky and Atkinson combined for six points.
“Playing with some pretty good players,” Atkinson said. “The chemistry between us three has definitely grown. It’s fun to play with those guys.”
The Sabres continue to look for answers, but Miller said their confidence isn’t shaken.
“I know we can do it,” he said. “We just have to step up here and make it better.”
Notes: The win was Columbus’ first in Buffalo since Nov. 14, 2008. … Defenceman Mike Weber was a minus-4. … Shortly after Columbus opened the scoring, two fights broke out as Cody McCormick fought Dalton Prout and Patrick Kaleta fought Jared Boll. … Kaleta returned to the game wearing a full-face mask. … It was the third time Columbus forward Nick Foligno faced off against his younger brother, Marcus. Nick’s teams have won two of three. … The Sabres travel to Chicago to play the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night and the Blue Jackets host the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon.