The Buffalo Sabres were back in action tonight, again facing the Toronto Maple Leafs, 24 hours after the longest Sabres shootout in history.
Ryan Miller was back in net for tonight’s game against Jonathan Bernier.
Toronto jumped on Buffalo early, Tyler Bozak centered a pass to Phil Kessel, who tipped the puck into the goal only 1:35 into the opening period. The assist was credited to Bozak and Carter Ashton.
Both teams traded shots back and forth, until the 10:01 mark of the first, with Trevor Smith catching Ryan Miller out of net and tallying Toronto’s second goal on a 3-on-1 with Tyler Myers as the lone defenseman back. The assist was credited to Jake Gardiner.
With Toronto ahead by the two goals, Buffalo picked up the pace a bit.
Nikita Zadorov wristed a beautiful top shelf shot with 26 seconds remaining in the first period to break Toronto’s shutout bid.
At the end of the period, Toronto led 2-1. Toronto also led on shots 14-9.
The second period started with a flurry of shots from Buffalo. But those shots just weren’t enough. Jonathan Bernier remained very intact in net, refusing to budge, stifling the Buffalo offense.
With 12:34 to go in the second, Buffalo outshot the Leafs 6-2.
Three minutes later, a turnover at the Toronto blue line forced a 3-on-2 chance. Phil Kessel scored a wrister just outside the slot to put away his second goal of the night with an assist from Carter Ashton and Jonathan Bernier.
A minute later, Toronto extended it’s lead to 4-1 with a tally from Josh Leivo. The assists were given to James van Reimsdyk and Joe Colborne. Van Reimsdyk, on a lone breakaway, was unable to convert, but instead rifled a pass to Leivo who one-timed the puck into the net.
At the end of two, Toronto led the whole stat sheet, 4-1 and shot count of 25-20.
The start of the third showed promise for the Sabres, applying pressure early on and making Toronto work for the win.
That break came at 8:31 of the third, where newcomer Jamie McBain ripped a slapshot past Bernier on the power-play to close the gap to 4-2. McBain’s goal was assisted by Joel Armia and Mikhail Grigorenko.
Buffalo didn’t stop there. About a minute later, Jamie McBain looked as if he had done it again, taking another shot that made it into the
back of the net with a deflection from Corey Tropp to come within one of Toronto.
With that, sparks started flying and tensions rose between the two teams. Thus started………….a brawl!
A bit of chirping between John Scott and Phil Kessel led to some grappling and fists being thrown. Everybody on the ice soon partnered off and even Ryan Miller and Jonathan Bernier threw some punches.
After the fights, everyone involved, which totaled 13 people, were taken into the dressing rooms for the remainder of the game. Backups Matt Hackett and Drew MacIntyre were placed in net to replace Miller and Bernier.
David Clarkson was also assessed a 10 minute penalty for leaving the bench to fight, and will also likely face a 10 game regular season suspension.
With over 9 minutes to play, the game resumed and at the 14:46 mark, Toronto put the nail in the coffin with an unassisted goal by Jake Gardiner.
The game remained very scrappy and minor fights continued throughout.
At the buzzer, Toronto handed Buffalo their first regulation loss, 5-3.
Buffalo now stands at 3-1-1 and return home to face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday.
Video highlights can be found here on sabres.nhl.com.