BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Jeff Skinner scored 1:20 into overtime, and the Buffalo Sabres beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on Saturday without coach Don Granato because of an illness.

Casey Mittelstadt and Jack Quinn also scored for Buffalo, which had dropped two in a row. Owen Power had two assists and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 18 saves.

“It seemed like one of those nights,” Skinner said. “Those games you just have to stick with it and find an extra gear.”

Granato missed the game due to an unspecified illness. Seth Appert, who coaches the Sabres’ AHL affiliate in Rochester, was called up to fill in behind the bench.

“I really didn’t have enough time to think about my first NHL game,” Appert said. “We’re just trying to make it as smooth, with Donny being sick, as possible, so the staff and the players could be in the right mindset and there would be no disruption for them to try and win the game tonight.”

Granato will not rejoin the Sabres in time for Sunday night’s game at Ottawa, Appert said, but the team hopes he’ll return to health during a three-day break following the matchup with the Senators.

Appert, who is in his fourth season coaching Rochester, is familiar with many of the players in the NHL’s youngest lineup.

“We hope Donny feels better and gets better through the weekend,” Skinner said. “Seth’s been in the organization a long time. Obviously we have a lot of young guys that have played with and played for him, and we all see him in training camp for the two or three weeks that he’s here. It’s not like he’s a stranger or a new voice coming in. I think the transition was smooth.”

Adam Fantilli and Damon Severson scored for Columbus, and Daniil Tarasov made 39 saves. Coming off a 6-5 overtime win against Toronto on Friday night, the Blue Jackets lost for the fourth time in five games.

Coach Pascal Vincent said the Blue Jackets struggled to sustain their energy on the second night of a back-to-back set.

“We could see our legs going down midway through the second,” Vincent said. “And then when the body is tired, the brain makes not as good decisions.”

Skinner scored his team-leading 15th goal on a slap shot. He has five goals and three assists in his last nine games.

Buffalo tied the game when rookie Zach Benson set up Mittelstadt in the right circle for his 10th goal of the season with 8:08 left in regulation.

Fantilli gave Columbus a 2-1 lead with his 11th goal with 6:15 left in the second period. Justin Danforth created the scoring chance, spinning to his backhand to pass the puck behind Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin and set up Fantilli on the rush seven seconds after the Blue Jackets killed Fantilli’s penalty for hooking.

“I thought at points we showed flashes of the way we want to play and we were really rolling when we were,” Fantilli said. “And then there were some points where we just weren’t and it cost us.”

The 19-year-old Fantilli also scored during the victory over the Maple Leafs. He has seven goals and six assists in his last 14 games.

Quinn tied it at 1 for Buffalo when he knocked in a rebound 40 seconds into the second, after Severson followed his own shot in the high slot to put Columbus in front late in the first.


Blue Jackets: Host Boston Bruins on Tuesday night.

Sabres: Visit Ottawa Senators on Sunday night.


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