Game 43: A Win as Well As a Turning Point?

After a very good effort at home tonight, the Sabres got a much-needed win over the Leafs, 3-2. Ryan Miller looked sharp in goal for Buffalo. If the Sabres do turn things around, I think fans can look at this game as the one that got the ball rolling in that direction.

1st Period:

Unlike their last game against Toronto, the Sabres scored a goal and they did it early. Matt Ellis had the puck behind the net and did a blind pass out front that deflected off of Cody Franson’s skate past Gustavsson to give them a 1-0 lead. The whole play got started because of Gaustad winning a battle against Tim Connolly in the corner. Toronto settled down a bit after that and got some decent zone time on a couple of shifts before the Sabres had a 2-on-1 chance w/Hecht and Vanek. The latter had his shot blocked by Joey Crabb though. Shortly after that, Gustavsson gave up a softly to make it 2-0, Buffalo. Gaustad carried the puck into the Toronto zone and just threw the puck onto the net, hoping for a rebound for his linemates to scoop up, but instead, the puck went into the net. Buffalo scoring on that softy seemed to make the Leafs back off a bit; they looked pretty tentative out there in my opinion.

That lasted for a pretty long time until a shift with just under six minutes left into the period, Luke Schenn took a point shot that went wide, but bounced off the boards to Grabvovksi who put the shot between Miller’s legs to cut the Sabres lead to one. After a few minutes of evenly-played hockey, Toronto would tie the game up, 2-2, thanks to Weber getting tripped in his zone, giving the puck away. The puck eventually made it’s way around to Joey Crabb who shot the puck into the open shortside past Miller who had zero chance on the play. Even though Weber did get tripped on the play, he shouldn’t have been playing around with the puck in front of Miller, regardless.

The Leafs would give the Sabres a chance to get the lead back though. They got assessed a delay of game penalty for shooting the puck over the glass, which gave Buffalo a power play. Toronto actually looked good on the penalty kill for once and completely shut down the Sabres on their opportunity. This period would stay tied going into the 2nd.

2nd Period:

Unlike the start of last period, both teams had some good jump and were trading chances and offensive zone time for the first four minutes and change of the period. Near the 15-minute mark, Vanek accidently went knee-on-knee against Nazem Kadri after he side-stepped a check thrown by Vanek to give Toronto their first power play of the game. They hit a couple of posts, but that’s as close the Leafs would get to scoring on their chance. Toronto did seem to gain some momentum from their power play though because they manhandled Buffalo, not allowing them to get the puck out of their zone that much. Fortunately, no goals came of it for the Leafs. With just under nine minutes left in the 2nd, Gerbe hooked Phil Kessel (weak-call in my opinion) on the backcheck to give Toronto another crack at the power play. They were considerably weaker during this chance though and failed to score yet again.

Around the the 6-minute mark, Hecht won a faceoff and the puck was cycled over towards Vanek who found Pominville wide-open in the slot and he ripped a shot past Gustavsson to give the Sabres the lead back, 3-2. The refs…err Gragnani attempted to give the momentum back to the Leafs a bit by taking a cross-checking penalty. At least Toronto was inept on the power play again to keep the game at a 3-2 score and that’s how it would stay heading into the 3rd.

3rd Period:

Buffalo jumped on the Leafs early, sustaining some long shifts in the Toronto-end of the ice. Unlike many other games where the Sabres just sat back when they had a lead in the 3rd, they were actually attacking the Leafs….definitely a refreshing change-of-pace. After about eight minutes, Buffalo was outshooting Toronto, 5-1. The Sabres went back on the power play at this time as well because of a too-many-men penalty. It was abbreviated though because after Gragnani got tripped and interfered with, he accidently got the guy with a high-stick. There was no call on Toronto on the play. Thankfully, the refs didn’t ultimately help tip the scoreboard more towards the Leafs’ favor. From that point on, both teams were playing each other pretty evenly, although Miller had to make some really nice saves down the stretch. Pulling the goalie late didn’t help the Leafs tie it either and Buffalo held on for the victory.

Quick-hits:

-Kessel and Lupul were held pointless for consecutive games for the first time this season. Hard to believe both of them have been that good for Toronto this year.

-Speaking of dynamic duos, Vanek and Pominville teamed up for yet another goal tonight.

-Glad to see some secondary scoring, even if it did come on a soft goal and good bounce.

-Miller looked more like the Miller of old tonight.

-So how much money did the refs have on this game? Three of the Sabres four penalties were completely bogus.

-It was nice to see a complete effort for the first time in awhile.

Time

1st Period Scoring

TORONTO

BUFFALO

1:05

M.Ellis (3)
Assists: P.Gaustad, P.Kaleta

0

1

3:53

P.Gaustad (4)
Assists: B.McNabb, P.Kaleta

0

2

14:06

M.Grabovski (14)
Assists: L.Schenn, C.Gunnarsson

1

2

16:52

J.Crabb (7)
Assist: M.Grabovski

2

2

Time

Penalties

17:05

2:00 for Delay of Game (Served by M.Brown)

Time

2nd Period Scoring

TORONTO

BUFFALO

14:13

J.Pominville (15)
Assist: T.Vanek

2

3

Time

Penalties

4:26

T.Vanek: 2:00 for Kneeing N.Kadri

11:14

N.Gerbe: 2:00 for Hooking P.Kessel

15:47

M-A. Gragnani: 2:00 for Cross-checking K.Aulie

3rd Period Scoring

TORONTO

BUFFALO

None

2

3

Penalties

2:00 bench minor for Too-Many-Men (Served by N.Kadri) (7:44)

M-A. Gragnani: 2:00 for High-sticking D.Boyce (9:01)

Game Scoresheet

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