Shut down again in Toronto

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.

Brandon Seltenrich
Brandon Seltenrich
Goalie from San Francisco currently studying toward a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management at Canisius College. Founder of and host of the Puck SKLS Podcast. Avid hockey writer, podcaster, and statistician in the Buffalo area.
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