Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Sabres Defeat Toronto Maple Leafs in Exciting S/O Tilt

When the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs square off it seems to always be an exciting game. It doesn’t matter how poorly either team is playing these two teams seem to bring out the best in each other and tonight may have been the best full game effort by the Sabres.

After an ugly first period we witnessed John Scott drop the gloves with Frazer McLaren, Colton Orr jump Patrick Kaleta starting an unnecessary fight

earning himself 29 minutes in penalties. Then Steve Ott earned himself an unsportsmanlike penalty which Tyler Bozak capitalized on to give the Leafs a 1-0 lead. Nazem Kadri who’s been on fire this season scored to put the Leafs up 2-0 and 10 minutes into the first the Sabres looked defeated and lost.

The worst part of going down 2-0 nothing and getting involved in the emotion is when it hurts your team. Up until the fights and the unsportsmanlike penalty by Ott, the Buffalo Sabres were off to a hot start and had great offensive pressure. Instead of capitalizing on that pressure they spent time in the box and ended up down by two.

Tyler Ennis got the Sabres on the board after a pass from behind the net by Ott with under 2 minutes to go in the first. The first period ended with the Leafs on top 2-1 despite the Sabres out-shooting them 11-5.

The second period started with Ott taking a penalty for slashing and Mikhail Grabovski capitalizing to restore the Leafs two-goal lead. Marcus Foligno had a glorious breakaway in front of James Reimer but fell and didn’t get a shot off. But to Foligno’s credit he stuck with the play, got the puck back and buried it to bring the Sabres back within 1.

Cody Hodgson took advantage of a four on four situation and ran a mean cycling game deep in Toronto’s end with captain Jason Pominville. After each took a turn of cycling the puck Hodgson threw it in front to Pominville and the captain made no mistake, riffling the puck right under the bar tying the game up at 3.

Christian Ehrhoff gave the Sabres their first lead of the night when they went up 4-3 on a point shot that sneaked past Reimer thanks to a screen in front. Ehrhoff had a huge game adding two assists for a three point night. The lead was short lived as Kadri tipped in his 2nd goal of the night off a Cody Franson point shot.

Regulation wasn’t enough for these two to decide a winner as OT was needed. The Sabres entered the extra period with a brief power play, but were unable to capitalize. The Leafs dominated much of the over time as the Sabres were left to stand and watch the Leafs move the puck around but Miller stood strong and forced the shootout.

In the shootout;  It wasn’t until the 6th round when Steve Ott came in with speed and burned one past James Reimer. That proved to be the winner as the Sabres defeated the Maple Leads 5-4 in the shootout.

Miller was solid making 30 saves in the win despite allowing 2 goals on the first 5 shots. He really couldn’t be blamed for any of the Leafs 4 goals as they were either tipped or the defense didn’t help. During the second and third period Miller stood his ground and shut the door when he needed to, specifically when dove across to stop deny a chance on a wide open net with his stick.

Hodgson had a very strong game, was all over the ice tonight. His cycling game was fantastic to watch and he generated chances with his speed and strong play in the Leafs end.

With the win the Sabres move to 11-1-1 in their past 13 home games against the Leafs. In addition to beating the divisional rivals the Sabres also moved to within 6 points of the 8th and final playoff spot.

One last note- John Scott is an absolute waste of a player, he was brought in to help “toughen” up the Sabres but failed to do so tonight as the Leafs out-toughed the Sabres early in the first. With Steve Ott and Patrick Kaleta in the line-up there’s no real need for Scott, who can barely skate and does nothing to help. Maybe Scott should be in the press box instead of Nathan Gerbe.

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Tags: Buffalo Sabres NHL Toronto Maple Leafs

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