Game 34: A Great, but Losing Effort On Festivus-Eve

After a lackluster effort on Tuesday night, Buffalo came out with a vengeance, generating scoring chances and hitting everything with a Leafs uniform. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough at the opportunistic Leafs who scored just enough to edge the Sabres, 3-2 in Toronto. Thomas Vanek left the game with an injury and is day-to-day.

1st Period: Toronto dictated the pace of the game for the first couple of minutes before the Whitmore-Szczechura-Stafford line had a nice shift the momentum towards Buffalo a bit. Pat Kaleta would save a goal shortly after that, but he took a penalty in the process, which gave the Leafs a power play. They didn’t do anything with their chance though and they gave Buffalo a power play chance of their own almost right after their power play ended. The Sabres power play chance only lasted four seconds though because Vanek hooked Aulie off the face-off. Because of all of that, there was 4-on-4 action for almost two minutes. There was lots of end-to-end action, but not much in the way of scoring chances for either team. Ryan Miller made a couple of really nice back-to-back saves on Phil Kessel right after the 4-on-4 ended. The period would end with no score. The highlights of the period was McNabb and Kassian getting in Phaneuf’s face. It was pretty sad seeing a vet like Phaneuf back-down from two rookies.

2nd Period: The Sabres had some nice jump to start things off. They already had nine shots on goal in just under four minutes.  Brayden McNabb tried to lineup Clarke MacArthur which resulted in a good scoring chance for Roy going the other way. A short time later, Phil Kessel rode a Sabres forward to the ice to give the Sabres another power play chance. They wouldn’t get any goals off it, but they were moving the puck well and creating solid scoring chances. About a minute after the power play expired, Paul Gaustad absolutely unloaded on Liles in open ice; he went to the locker room after taking that hit. Stafford would draw a penalty on the backcheck to give the Sabres yet another power play chance. This time, they were a little less successful in creating scoring chances, but Buffalo still looked sharp. Once again, no goals were scored. By the time this power play ended, the Sabres had a staggering shot advantage, outshooting the Leafs 15-to-1. Hard to believe that this was essentially the same group that played Ottawa on Tuesday.

Even when Toronto strung together a nice shift, they still screwed up. Nikolai Kulemin went after McNabb and interfered with him to continue the penalty fest. About 30 seconds in, Buffalo had Toronto running around in their own end on the PK and Tyler Bozak took a delay of game penalty to give the Sabres a 5-on-3 for a 1:07. Buffalo didn’t score on the 5-on-3, but after the first penalty ended, Pominville took a shot that went in off of Luke Schenn who attempted to block the shot. After all of that work, the Sabres finally scored a goal to take a 1-0 lead. A little while after the goal, Ellis-Gaustad-Kaleta started a scrum and the refs gave Kaleta a penalty. The Leafs had a lot of movement, but no real chances for the first minute. Gaustad would give the Leafs a 5-on-3 chance by taking a delay of game penalty. Buffalo did an exceptionally good job killing off both penalties to keep the lead and McNabb crunched a Toronto player in front of the net as the Sabres returned to full-strength.

The Leafs would tie the game up the next shift though. Ehrhoff bobbled the puck down-low and Toronto capitalized on the opportunity. Buffalo would catch a really bad break a bit after the Leafs tied it. Toronto brought the puck into the zone and Regehr had his man, Kessel covered until he lost an edge, allowing him to get ahead of him by a half-step to rip the one-timer home, giving the Leafs their first lead 2-1.

3rd Period: It didn’t take long for Buffalo to tie the score up. Derek Roy picked the pocket of Grabovski and he ripped a wrister by Reimer on his glove-side. Both he and Stafford did nice work on the goal. The Leafs picked things up after that shift, but Roy and Stafford came out and turned the tide again with another nice shift. Unfortunately, Toronto would take the lead back about six minutes into the 3rd. The Sabres let MacArthur walk into their zone and he made a drop-pass to Kadri who shot it past Miller who had a bunch of Sabres in front of him. With all of that being said, it was a pretty weak goal. Miller completely whiffed on the shot while trying to catch it in his glove. The goal didn’t deflate the Sabres effort out there though. They kept on pressuring the Leafs and generating scoring chances, but to no avail. Mike Weber would take a pretty stupid interference penalty with just under nine minutes left in the 3rd to give Toronto the power play. The Leafs buzzed around, but they wouldn’t add to their lead.

After some back-and-forth play, Ehrhoff drew a tripping call while trying to rush the puck into the Leafs’ zone. Buffalo picked a bad time to have their worst power play chance of the night. They did absolutely nothing. The Sabres would pull the goalie late to try and tie the game up, but they couldn’t come up with the tying goal.

Time for the quick-hits:

-I hope day-to-day means Monday. Get well soon Vanek.

-Roy and Stafford were much better tonight. More of that please.

-It sucks to lose, but I can tolerate losses a lot better when the Sabres play hard and are physically engaged like they were tonight.

-As far as I’m concerned, McNabb has leapfrogged Weber and Gragnani on the depth chart. One of them is probably gone when Myers comes back while the other serves as the 7th defenseman. My guess is that Weber goes and Grags stays.

-Leopold’s hand still looks like it’s bothering him out there.

-Regehr-Sekera looked good outside of Regehr blowing a tire on the Kessel goal.

-A soft goal tainted what was otherwise a great night for Miller.

-Dion Phaneuf is a bleeping coward. How anyone considers him a tough defenseman is beyond me.

-Other than the last PP chance, the Sabres were much-improved in that department. The PK was excellent as well.

Shots On Goal

1

2

3

Total

Buffalo

6

19

17

42

Toronto

12

12

7

31

Team Stats

Hits

Giveaways

Takeaways

Faceoffs Won

PIM

Buffalo

33

16

11

32

14

Toronto

25

10

13

25

14

Time

1st Period Scoring

SABRES

LEAFS

Time

Penalties

5:18

P.Kaleta: 2:00 for Hooking N.Kulemin

7:47

D.Boyce: 2:00 for Interference of C.Ehrhoff

7:51

T.Vanek: 2:00 for Hooking K.Aulie

11:56

B.McNabb: 2 Minutes for Roughing D.Phaneuf

11:56

D.Phaneuf: 2:00 for Slashing B.McNabb

13:24

D.Stafford: 2:00 for Interference of J.Reimer

Time

2nd Period Scoring

SABRES

LEAFS

11:49

J.Pominville (11) (Power Play)
Assist: T.Vanek

1

0

15:52

D.Steckel (6) Assists: L.Schenn, J.Crabb

1

1

16:54

P.Kessel (20) Assists: J.Lupul, D.Phaneuf

1

2

Time

Penalties

1:45

P.Kessel: 2:00 for Interference of J.Pominville

5:07

M.Frattin: 2:00 for Holding D.Stafford

9:44

N.Kulemin: 2:00 for Interference of B.McNabb

10:37

T.Bozak: 2:00 for Delay of Game

12:16

P.Kaleta: 2:00 for Roughing J.Lupul

13:21

P.Gaustad: 2:00 for Delay of Game

Time

3rd Period Scoring

SABRES

LEAFS

1:29

D.Roy (8) Assist: J.Pominville

2

2

5:52

N.Kadri (1) Assist: C.MacArthur

2

3

Time

Penalties

11:24

M.Weber: 2:00 for Interference of N.Kadri

15:59

N.Kadri: 2:00 for Tripping C.Ehrhoff

Game Scoresheet

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