In John Tavares’ first game at home as a Maple Leaf, Toronto held on to defeat the Sabres, 5-3. The game was an exciting back and forth affair which saw seven goals scored in the 1st period. Tavares had two goals in the game for a total of four now in the preseason.
Toronto and Buffalo were both undefeated at 2-0 heading into this game with the Maple Leafs coming out on top to continue their unbeaten streak. The Sabres iced what would be considered their “B” team against the Maple Leafs with many of these players Rochester bound.
Buffalo’s Andrew Oglevie opened the scoring just 30 seconds into the game only for Toronto to score three goals in just over three minutes to take a 3-1 lead. C.J. Smith scored 11 minutes into the 1st period to get Buffalo within one goal at 3-2.
In the second period both teams settled down more on defense. Tage Thompson scored a highlight reel goal six minutes in on a breakaway, on which he toe dragged Maple Leafs goalie Garret Sparks to launch a beautiful wrist shot up high to tie the game at 3. The Maple Leafs broke the tie just four minutes later on a Chris Mueller goal.
Buffalo had two power plays in the third period, which they had substantial opportunities and pressure to tie the game but failed. Buffalo went 0-3 on the power play, an area where they will absolutely want to improve on if they have playoff aspirations. Tavares iced the game with an empty net goal to give Toronto a 5-3 victory.
Thompson had a superb game, scoring his first goal of the preseason and creating quite a few chances in the 3rd period.
OMG Tage Thompson – Goal pic.twitter.com/MWYglaYwL3
— Ben Mathewson (@Ben_Mathewson) September 22, 2018
He displayed a willingness to shoot regularly. Over the last few years it felt like Buffalo had too many players who were unwilling to shoot without having the perfect angle or position. Thompson’s play will certainly make Sabres coach Phil Housley have to think long and hard about adding him to the roster.
Casey Nelson was noticeable all game, creating great chances on defense which helped to push the Sabres pace. Nelson certainly made a case to be in the Sabres top six defensive corp. On the other hand, Brendan Guhle was not very noticeable throughout the game and certainly gave the coaches reason to consider starting him in Rochester.
Linus Ullmark was very shaky in the first period, but his game tightened up as the period progressed. Additionally, not all of the goals had much defensive help and he made a number of beautiful saves in the 3rd period to keep the game within one goal.
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) September 22, 2018
Buffalo and Toronto head back to KeyBank Center in Buffalo to complete the back half of this home and home matchup on Saturday night.