The Toronto Maple Leafs are a young team that has struggled playing from behind. In fact they have not won a single game this season when trailing after one.
Until tonight that is. The Leafs were able to illustrate their first win after trailing in the first this year, downing the Buffalo Sabres, 4-3.
The Sabres took it to the Leafs in the first period, only to see sloppy play and a few different types of bad goals submarine their effort in the second. A slow third saw the Sabres unable to get anything going offensively, which allowed the Leafs to secure the two points.
The Sabres started fast for the second consecutive day, again seeing them outpace their opponent in the first frame. In what was mostly a back and forth period, the Sabres we able to capitalize on their opportunities with Kyle Okposo and Evander Kane both finding the back of the net to stake Buffalo to a 2-0 lead.
However, the second was a much different story than Monday and instead it was Toronto who took advantage of their chances. Starting with a somewhat fluky Leo Komorov goal 32 seconds in, the Sabres gave up three straight goals to the Leafs, including one from the side of the net that Robin Lehner absolutely needed to have. After an Auston Matthews tally to make it 3-2, Lehner was pulled in favor of Anders Nilsson. It was a period marred by sloppy neutral zone play, suspect goaltending and missed chances on the Sabres part.
“We come out, they get a lucky one, then I make a mistake on the second goal and I think Matthews scored a nice third.” – Robin Lehner on the second period.
The third was a tired period from a clearly gassed Sabres team. The Leafs speed allowed them to forecheck hard and fast on the transition, and it was too much for the Sabres at times. James Van Riemsdyk scored midway through the period on the powerplay on what could also be dubbed a soft goal, but it made it 4-2 nonetheless. William Carrier was able to literally bunt a goal past Freddy Andersen with a little over two minutes remaining in the period, but it wouldn’t be enough for the Sabres.
Tyler Ennis was a late scratch tonight on what the Sabres called a “precautionary basis” after playing his first game after groin/sports hernia surgery yesterday afternoon. The hope is for Ennis to be fine moving forward.
After the disappointing finish tonight, Sabres will have a few days to rest up off the back-to-back, facing off against the Detroit Red Wings in Buffalo on Friday night at 7 pm.