The Sabres got off to a quick start. Sam Reinhart stayed hot scoring 1:53 into the game. He deflected a Rasmus Ristolainen shot past Frederik Andersen on the power play.
Just under two minutes later another Ristolainen shot was tipped past Andersen. This time off the stick of Jason Pominville and it was quickly 2-0 in favor of the Sabres.
The Leafs woke up after the second Sabres goal. Luckily Chad Johnson was on his game tonight. Toronto would get within one in the final seconds of the period. Leo Komarov followed up on a rebound for the goal with seven seconds remaining in the period.
The Sabres took their 2-1 lead into the second period and the Leafs continued to build momentum off the late period goal. Johnson stood tall to keep his club in front.
In the middle of the period, the Leafs eventually broke through. Matt Martin had a nice give and go that Komarov finished for his second of the night. Tying the game at two.
It wouldn’t stay tied for long. The Sabres got a few bounces that ended up in the Toronto net. Reinhart tried to make a pass out front from the corner that hit Zemgus Girgensons and deflected past Andersen.
Two minutes later the second fortunate bounce occurred when the Leafs defender tried to clear the puck behind the net, but it went off the leg of the official. It ended up on the stick of Ryan O’Reilly in front who ripped the puck past Andersen to make it 4-2 after 40 minutes.
Toronto brought the pressure early in the third period, but couldn’t beat Johnson to get back in the game.
The Leafs continued to struggle defensively. A bad defensive zone turnover by Jake Gardiner resulted in Johan Larsson finding a rebound and firing it past Andersen to make it 5-2. The goal was reviewed for goaltender interference. However, the goal counted since Larsson made contact with Andersen outside the crease and directed in the goaltender by Gardiner.
Mitch Marner added a late goal for the Leafs to make it 5-3, but the Sabres held on for a win against their rivals from up the QEW.
Final: Sabres 5, Leafs 3
Shots on Goal: Sabres 24 | Leafs 41
Sabres Goal Scorers: Reinhart (16), Pominville (11), Girgensons (7), O’Reilly (19) and Larsson (4)
Leafs Goal Scorers: Komarov (6, 7) and Marner (18)
Three Stars of the Game
1. Sam Reinhart (1 G, 1 A)
2. Chad Johnson (38 saves on 41 shots)
3. Jason Pominville (1 G, 1 A)