The sold out crowd at the First Niagara Center came to see the Sabres fight for their playoff lives, and that’s exactly what they did.
Despite trailing 3-0 after the first period, the Sabres found a way to battle back and earn the victory, with Derek Roy scoring the game-winner in overtime.
Neither goaltender had a great game. The Sabres fired 45 shots on Ben Scrivens, who managed to stop 39 of them. At the other end, Ryan Miller allowed five goals on 25 shots.
Marcus Foligno led the game off with a thundering hit on Carl Gunnarsson just 10 seconds in, and the crowd erupted. Foligno handed out another big hit later in the first, this time on Bozak. Matt Frattin didn’t take the hit too kindly, and before he knew it, Foligno was in his first NHL fight. Foligno got the better of Frattin and had the crowd roaring.
Things took a turn after that.
Tyler Bozak’s pair of goals in the first period had the Maple Leafs out to a quick lead and put the Buffalo crowd in a somber mood. Bozak had three points on the night, all in the first, and Buffalo trailed 3-0 after 20 minutes of play. Matt Frattin recorded a Gordie Howe hat trick in the opening period with a goal, assist and a fight.
With such an important game at stake, the fans were disappointed and it looked as if the Sabres were going to lose to the Leafs once again.
But Buffalo came out and got their game together. Tyler Ennis got Buffalo on the board early in the second period with a power play goal. Later in the period, Alexander Sulzer ripped a shot past Ben Scrivens to bring the Sabres within one.
Down by one heading into the third, the Sabres desperately tried to tie it up, but it was former Sabres Clarke MacArthur who got the next goal, putting the Leafs up 4-2.
A couple minutes later, Derek Roy connected with a power play goal to cut the lead in half. But again, the Leafs battled back, and Jake Gardiner put in his 6th of the season.
Down by two with six minutes to play, Sulzer stepped up and scored his 3rd goal of the season. With two minutes left on the clock there was a mad scramble in the Toronto crease. The puck laid in front of Scrivens, who couldn’t cover it up. Finally, Jordan Leopold came in and knocked it home. The crowd erupted as Leopold tied the game with 1:53 remaining, which forced overtime.
Thanks to a delay of game penalty to Dion Phaneuf, the Sabres earned a power play, and they took advantage of it. Derek Roy ripped home a shot and the crowd exploded as the Sabres won 6-5.
Buffalo are now tied with Washington for points, but the Capitals do have the tiebreaker. Both teams have two games remaining, but the Sabres certainly kept themselves in it with a come-from-behind win over Toronto.
With the win, the Sabres are now 7-0 in their final regular season home games since the lockout.
The Sabres will complete the regular season with a pair of games on the road. Buffalo will play Philadelphia on Thursday and Boston on Saturday.