Sabres Defeat Maple Leafs 3-1 In Preseason Opener

BUFFALO NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Thomas Vanek #26 of the Buffalo Sabres screens Jonas Gustavsson #50 and Marcel Mueller #45 of the Toronto Maple Leafs as the a shot by Andrej Sekera #44 (not shown) goes in for a goal at HSBC Arena on September 25 2010 in Buffalo New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

With an announced crowd of 16,900 people at HSBC Arena, the Sabres defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1. While the Maple Leafs did not necessarily ice a strong lineup, their top line was Clarke MacArthur, Mikhail Grabovski, and Nikolai Kulemin, the Sabres showed strong play through most of the game. 

Goals were scored by Andrej Sekera, Tyler Ennis and Rob Niedermayer. Sekera's goal came off a shot from the point while Leafs goaltender Jonas Gustavasson was being screened by Thomas Vanek. Ennis' goal came off a 2 on 1 rush with Zach Kassian streaming up the right hand side. Finally, Niedermayer's goal was just a really good shot that came on a cold, young goaltender in Jussi Rynnas. The Maple Leafs lone goal came from Nikolai Kulemin from a shot in the slot after a faceoff win. Goaltender Jhonas Enroth really had no chance on the shot as it went over the blocker side. 

More on the game after the jump including players I liked and didn't like.

The Sabres controlled much of the play throughout the game and looked in control from roughly the start of the game. The first shift looked shaky from Roy-Vanek-Stafford, but once they settled down, play became significantly better. The Sabres power play went 0 for 3 with 6 shots on net and a handful of missed shots including an unofficial tally of three on one power play. The Maple Leafs powerplay went 0 for 4 with 4 shots on net. 

In terms of the goaltender play, Ryan Miller and Jonas Gustavsson each were pulled at the 10:17 mark in the second period. Miller made 9 saves on 9 shots while, Gustavsson made 17 saves on 19 shots. Enroth made 15 saves on 16 shots in replacement of Miller while Rynnas made 24 saves on 25 shots in replacement for Gustavsson. The Sabres outshot the Maple Leafs 44-25.

Zack Kassian had an impressive game for his first game out this season. He had some good energy, laying some good hits in his first shift and contributing on the Ennis goal on the rush. You can tell that Kassian may have a bit of a control issue though. In the middle of the second period, a Maple Leafs player whose name I forget, took a few shots at Kassian and Kassian had his gloves off ready to fight in about three seconds. While he can stand up for himself, it is a sure fire way to get the opponent to goad him into a penalty that he shouldn't be taking. With Kassian set to play in Monday night's game, he is setting himself up for a nine game tryout at the least. 

With the starting defenseman battle, Andrej Sekera didn't have the best of nights while Chris Butler didn't do anything dumb to move himself off the contender list. While Sekera did have the goal, he made some typical bonehead moves to allow some chances for the Leafs. Right now, Butler has the slight edge for the starting position with Weber yet to play. 

Derek Roy had a fairly good game, named the captain with Rivet out and had two assists and crashed the net more than I have seen him as of late. In general, the Sabres came out with a jump in their step and seemed to be playing with more of an edge than we have seen lately. McCormick had a few crowd pleasing hits along with Shaone Morrisonn and Zack Kassian as mentioned before.

Next game is Monday night at 7:00 pm at the Air Canada Centre. Game is shown live on NHL Network US, everywhere except for the Buffalo viewing area.

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