Strong 3rd period lifts Sabres over Leafs


The Sabres broke their four-game losing streak against a Toronto Maple Leafs team that, coming into the game, had won 13 straight games at home.

Jack Eichel dominated throughout the game, scoring two goals and creating numerous chances, while Chad Johnson played sensational in net, stopping 39 of 41 shots.

After being outplayed in the first two periods, Buffalo responded with a strong third-period rally to take a 3-2 win at the Air Canada Centre.

“It’s been a tough road here so far, it’s starts with me and the leaders on this team. It’s a big win, it’s a rivalry game for us. It’s a really good response after the Rangers game, it shows when you work hard you can have success.” – Eichel

In the first period Toronto showed their speed getting a lot of shots on Chad Johnson. However Buffalo was capitalized just three minutes in when Zemgus Girgensons fed Jack Eichel in front of Leafs goalie Frederik Anderson for his 23rd of the season. Buffalo held a 1-0 lead into intermission despite Toronto’s 14 shots on Chad Johnson who was up for the task.

The second period was dominated by Toronto, which had numerous chances on Chad Johnson throughout. Midway in the second, Eichel set up Jordan Nolan on a gorgeous one-time pass that Anderson made a great pad save on.

From there, Toronto dominated play in the Buffalo end tying the game at one apiece on Nazem Kadri’s 30th of the year with 2:29 left in the 2nd. Just over a minute later Toronto took a 2-1 lead on the power play when Patrick Marleau outworked Justin Faulk for a rebound in front.

In the third period, Buffalo responded with numerous chances in the Toronto end and good pressure that finally resulted in Casey Nelson tying the game at two with a nice point shot.

Just a minute and half later, Eichel beat the Toronto defense one-on-one on the left side and slid the puck five hole on Anderson, who wasn’t expecting Eichel’s move.

Youngsters Brendan Guhle and Nelson both looked great again showing good poise in their own end and generating some nice rushes. Guhle did a great job stepping up into the play and finished the game with 21 minutes of ice time. Nelson’s goal in the 3rd was a good job of a defenseman stepping into the zone, jumping into a shooting lane, and stepping into his shot.

Johan Larsson played a pretty good game while getting beat up pretty good throughout. He blocked a shot off his face in the 1st period and got rocked by the Leafs Roman Polak, who hit him so hard his helmet fell off. Despite that, he fought hard winning four of his five draws while registering an assist on Casey Nelson’s goal.

On a fun rivalry note, Eichel has outperformed the Leafs Auston Matthews in games against each other to this point.

Eichel has 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists) in 8 games

Matthes has 4 points (3 goals, 1 assist) in 6 games.

The Sabres have a couple days off before the host the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday at KeyBank Center. Casey Mittlestadt could make his NHL debut in that one. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.




Craig Mazuchowski
Craig Mazuchowski
SUNY Oswego Alumni. Self-taught guitarist. I've been a Sabres and hockey fan since birth. I've also refereed youth hockey and play in a men’s league. My tombstone will be in the shape of pizza.
[td_block_social_counter facebook="BuffaloHockeyCentral" twitter="BHCdotcom" custom_title="Follow BHC:" header_color="#002654" open_in_new_window="y"]