Umberger leads Blue Jackets in rout of Sabres

BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) — Since entering the NHL, the
Columbus Blue Jackets have had the number of the Buffalo Sabres.
R.J. Umberger made sure nothing changed on Friday.

Umberger scored twice and rookie Derick Brassard extended his
goal-scoring streak to three games as the Blue Jackets cruised
to a 6-1 victory over the Sabres.

Former Sabre Michael Peca netted his first goal of the season
and Manny Malhotra and captain Rick Nash also tallied for the
Blue Jackets, who have won four of five.

“We’ve been playing really well,” Peca said. “It was the first
game all season we had our entire lineup healthy, which gave us
a lot of confidence. We knew we had a great opponent in Buffalo
– they’re fast, they’re skilled. We had to play a very
responsible game, and I think we did that.”

“We know what we’re doing,” Columbus goaltender Pascal Leclaire
said. “We have a lot of confidence in our group. We’re not
scared of anybody.”

Jason Chimera and defenseman Mike Commodore added two assists
apiece for Columbus and Leclaire made 36 saves in his first
appearance since October 25. The 26-year-old goaltender had
been sidelined with a sprained ankle.

“I felt good,” Leclaire said. “It didn’t slow me down or
anything. I wouldn’t have come back if I wasn’t all right.
There was no issue with that.”

Jason Pominville netted the lone goal for the Sabres, who fell
to 3-1-1 against Western Conference opponents.

Entering with an all-time record of 5-2-1 against Buffalo,
Columbus wasted little time taking control of this one.

“Right off the bat, we gave a few opportunities,” Pominville
said. “They outplayed us tonight. The chances they had, the
shots they had. … It was a message we have to be better, and
we know it.”

Umberger gave the Blue Jackets a lead it would not relinquish at
5:37 of the first period, converting a pass from below the end
line on the right side of the net by Jared Boll while standing
on the doorstep. Peca, who spent five seasons with the Sabres
from 1995-2000, doubled the advantage less than two minutes
later, when he tipped defenseman Fedor Tyutin’s blast from the
left point past goaltender Patrick Lalime for his first goal of
the campaign.

“I think we came out in the first period and got the start we
wanted to,” Umberger said. “We’ve talked a lot about our first
period and how we want to dictate games, come in with a better
attitude. It was good to see us tonight start that way.”

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“If you’re going to expose your goaltender to that right off the
bat, you’re asking for it,” Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said.
“We’ve got to be better than that.”

The NHL’s Rookie of the Month for October, Brassard made it 3-0
with 4:12 remaining in the first, snapping a shot from the slot
inside the right goalpost for his team-leading eighth tally.

“That was not the kind of start you want to have,” Lalime said.
“I think every chance they had, they found a way to put it in.”

Malhotra chased Lalime at 5:13 of the second period. Chimera
beat defenseman Toni Lydman to the puck behind the net after the
goaltender left it there and made a backhand pass to Malhotra,
who buried a one-timer from the slot for a 4-0 bulge.

“I had no idea there was one guy coming,” Lalime said. “Just a
little miscommunication there.”

Ryan Miller replaced Lalime, who had stopped just half of the
eight shots he faced, and made two saves. Lalime returned to
start the third period, however, and did not fare much better.

“I was just trying to do anything to get an edge,” Ruff said of
pulling Lalime. “I wasn’t pulling him because it was his fault.
It looked like that because of the fourth goal, which you have
to blame him on, but not the first three.”

“I was happy to go back in there and feel something, “Lalime
said. “They didn’t have many shots in the first couple of
periods. It was nice to go back.”

Pominville got Buffalo on the board during a 5-on-3 power play
with 6:23 to go in the second, but Umberger netted his second
goal of the night less than six minutes into the third session
and Nash tallied less than two minutes later for the final

Lalime yielded all six goals on a total of 25 shots.

“One of those nights,” he said. “You look at it and you just
throw that one out and look at coming back stronger.”