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Game Recap

Shut down again in Toronto

Sabres still can’t find answer against Maple Leafs

In the second game of a back-to-back, the Buffalo Sabres traveled north of the border to Toronto to face off against the Maple Leafs for the second time in a week. Toronto won the game decisively, winning by a score of 5-2. 

The Sabres wanted to force the Maple Leafs to play a “boring game,” slowing down the young, speedy squad and creating a defensive battle. Thanks to a four-goal first period, though, this game was anything but.

It took no more than five minutes for John Tavares to bank in a rebound on a sprawling Linus Ullmark, who made a solid stop just a few seconds before. Buffalo responded not two minutes later, as a Marco Scandella point shot squeaked past Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen for a tap-in by Jason Pominville, his 15th of the season. Brandon Montour added the secondary assist.

Buffalo continued to put on the pressure and went up 2-1 on the Leafs thanks to a nifty wrist shot from the red-hot Conor Sheary that made its way through a defenseman. Kyle Okposo made the smooth pass to set Sheary up for the go-ahead goal.

The two teams traded a couple of unsuccessful power plays before it was Morgan Rielly who tied things up for the Leafs near the end of the period, a point shot that trickled through Ullmark’s legs as he was screened by Patrick Marleau in front. Auston Matthews and Ron Hainsey had the helpers.

The Sabres had a tough second period, going down 4-2 by the end of the middle frame after goals from Toronto’s Nic Petan and Nikita Zaitsev. Petan notched his first goal as a Leaf, and his first in more than a calendar year, while Zaitsev scored on a deflection off of Brandon Montour’s skate blade.

Tavares tallied his second point of the night with an assist on Zaitsev’s goal, while it was Trevor Moore, Igor Ozhiganov, and Mitch Marner recording the other assists.

Most of the third period was back and forth, as both teams traded chances and couldn’t sustain much zone time on either side.

The Sabres were inches away from pulling to within one goal, but Leafs defenseman Ron Hainsey batted the puck out of the crease before it crossed the goal line. Ullmark stopped Marleau on a breakaway late to keep the Sabres in it, but Marner sealed the deal on an empty net goal to end the game.

The loss furthers Buffalo’s hopes for making the playoffs, as they stay put 7 points out of the last Wild Card spot in the East.

The Sabres are back home in Buffalo for their next game on Monday against the Edmonton Oilers. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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NHL Standings

TEAMGPRECPTS
Atlantic Division Leaders:
P8262-16-4128
X8249-24-9107
X8246-28-8100
Metropolitan Division Leaders:
Y8248-26-8104
X8248-27-7103
X8244-26-12100
Wild Card leaders:
X8246-29-799
X8247-31-498
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8244-30-896
8236-32-1486
8237-37-882
8232-36-1478
8233-39-1076
8232-40-1074
8231-41-1072
8229-47-664
TEAMGPRECPTS
Central Division Leaders:
Y8247-29-6100
X8247-30-599
X8245-28-999
Pacific Division Leaders:
Z8250-25-7107
X8246-27-9101
X8243-32-793
Wild Card leaders:
X8243-32-793
X8238-30-1490
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8239-35-886
8236-34-1284
8237-36-983
8235-36-1181
8235-37-1080
8235-38-979
8231-42-971