The Buffalo Sabres ended their modest two game winning streak with a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at the Air Canada Center. After coming off a 3-1 victory over the Leafs a day earlier in Buffalo, the Sabre’s untimely defensive lapses and undisciplined penalties were too much to overcome.
The first period started much like Friday’s contest with both teams skating well, good physical play,and equal amounts of scoring chances. At about the five minute mark Jamie McBain had a glorious scoring opportunity from the high slot, but Toronto net minder James Reimer was up to the task and kept the score 0-0. For the remainder of the period the Maple Leafs had an edge in play due to some sloppy hockey from Buffalo. At the 5:45 mark of the opening stanza the Sabres lost a faceoff in their own zone and off a shot from the left point, James van Riemsdyk deflected the puck past Jhonas Enroth for a 1-0 lead. Toronto continued to have the upper hand in play and at the 13:35 mark van Riemsdyk picked up his second goal of the game and ninth of the season on the power play. With Christian Ehrhoff in the box for holding, it took only eight seconds for van Riemsdyk to find himself once again alone in front of Enroth where he tipped the puck in for a 2-0 lead to finish off the first period scoring.
The Sabres picked up the pace to start the second period as well as the physical play. Early on in the period Steve Ott and Toronto’s David Clarkson squared off for a evenly matched fight after Clarkson put Jamie McBain into the boards on a hard check. While the Sabres mustered some decent scoring chances, Reimer kept Buffalo off the scoreboard. With just over nine minutes to go in the period the Sabres defense had another breakdown. Toronto’s Mason Raymond picked up the puck to the left of Enroth and fed Nikolai Kulemin a pass in the slot where he beat Enroth for a 3-0 lead. Paul Ranger added an assist on Kulemin’s first of the season.
The Sabres started the third period with a bit more desperation, and at the 2:15 mark of the period they finally got on the scoreboard. After receiving a pass from Marcus Foligno, Zemgus Girgensons tipped a pass to Jamie McBain who once again found himself alone in the slot. Unlike in the first, McBain didn’t miss and pulled Buffalo to within two. After some wrestling matches and some unnecessary misconduct penalties to both team’s tough guys, the Sabres went on a power play with the Leafs picking up an extra two minutes for roughing. On a pretty passing play between Cody Hodgson, Matt Moulson, and Tyler Ennis, the Sabres pulled to within one as Ennis picked up his third of the year after beating Reimer on a shot from the faceoff circle. For the remainder of the period Buffalo continued to pressure the Leafs, but late in the period Ville Leino picked up a two minute tripping penalty. Buffalo failed to clear the zone midway through the penalty when Raymond Mason picked up the loose puck and blasted a shot past Enroth for his seventh of the season. The Maple Leafs skated away with a 4-2 victory.
Tonight was the second of five meetings between the two clubs this season with the next one coming on November 29th at the First Niagara Center. Next up for the Sabres is a match up with NHL goal scoring leader Alexander Steen and the St. Louis Blues Tuesday night at the First Niagara Center.