On Friday night the Sabres took a big step to regain their confidence and on Saturday they demolished all those hopes. The Sabres lost 4-2 in Toronto against one of the few teams that were behind them in the standings. Just one night after scoring 10 goals in a 10-1 victory over the Thrashers the Sabres never seemed to be in the game against the Leafs. The Leafs got off to a fast start and never looked back.
A power play goal just over two minutes into the game put the Leafs ahead and seemed to deflate the Sabres. The Toronto pressure continued and they were almost able to go ahead by two on a strange play, the puck bounced into the air and came to rest on the goal line but never crossed. It would have been easy to for the Sabres to use that play to build on, it appeared they may get the bounces last night, instead the Leafs smothered the Sabres and allowed them only four shots in the first period.
Henrik Tallinder was called for hooking just 24 seconds into the second period and the Leafs capitalized on the opportunity. Alex Steen tried to slide the puck under Brian Campbell and in the process it went through the crease and off of the far goal post before going into the net. The Leafs went up 3-0 about two minutes later on a wrist shot by Alexei Ponikarovsky that beat Miller. The Sabres picked up their play in the second half of the game but it turned out to be too little too late.
The Sabres received goals from Jochen Hecht and Daniel Paille to close within one at 3-2 but Jason Blake put the game away with just under seven minutes left. Dmitri Kalinin pinched in from the point in the Leafs zone and eventually lost the puck, setting up a 2-on-1 break for the Leafs. Jason Blake decided to fire a shot himself and beat Miller from the top of the faceoff circle. The Sabres never really amounted a threat again until the final of the minute of the game and Vesa Toskala made all the necessary saves.
The Sabres snapped their ten game winless streak on Friday by beating Atlanta 10-1 and it appeared that they may have turned the corner. The game against the Leafs was a reminder that one game is not enough to turn the corner. There are plenty of problems with the Sabres right now and time is running out to correct those problems. The all star break is under a week away and the Sabres have 46 points and are in 12th place in the Eastern Conference. Only five points separate the Sabres from a playoff spot but more importantly only three points separate them from last place in the conference. There are two games left before the break and they may decide what direction this team will go after the break.
The next game will be Monday at a special time because of the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. The Sabres will travel to Phoenix to take on the Coyotes at 4PM EST. The game will be on MSG at 4PM but there will be no RJ. Kevin Sylvester will assume the play by play duties for this week while Rick takes a deserved vacation.