The Buffalo Sabres wrapped up the home portion of their preseason schedule on Saturday night, when they welcomed the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Keybank Center. Tonight also marked the back half of a home-and-home, which featured a 5-3 Maple Leafs victory on Friday night.
Unfortunately for the Sabres, tonight’s result would mirror Friday night’s result.
Things would start off relatively well for Buffalo, thanks to a Kyle Okposo power play goal just 4:17 into the game.
A very nice shot from Okposo, who found himself with momentum on the half-wall. Okposo continues to build forward momentum as the season draws closer.
Toronto would come out for the second period with their foot on the gas pedal.
Old friend Tyler Ennis did his part in getting the Maple Leafs offense started, with a nice saucer pass over to Auston Matthews. Without hesitation, Matthews batted the floating puck past Carter Hutton, at 2:42 of the second period.
The Maple Leafs were not done there.
Less than three minutes later, a point shot into a large scrum would break the tie in favor of Toronto. Jeremy Bracco was credited with the goal at 5:37 but it most certainly was the continued offensive pressure and aforementioned scrum that helped create this goal.
At one point in the second, Toronto was outshooting Buffalo 9-1.
Not to be outdone, the Sabres were able to turn it on in the second half of the second period. Buffalo was able to make up the eight shot deficit with ease.
Late in the second period, pressure was growing in the Sabres offensive zone. Jeff Skinner found himself bouncing around the goalmouth, which proved to be too much for Jake Gardiner.
As Gardiner lost Skinner defensively, Skinner was able to grab the puck and backhand it over Fredrik Andersen. Skinner’s goal, at 19:47 of the second period, tied things at 2.
Eichel to Reinhart to Skinner— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) September 23, 2018
We could get used to that pic.twitter.com/7PS6DdMw7D
With the game tied heading into the final period, things were understandably tense – even for a preseason game.
It would be another Maple Leafs scrum in front of Carter Hutton that would do the Sabres in.
Midway through the period, 10:32 into the period to be exact, Calle Rosen’s seeing-eye shot fluttered through a crowd and past Carter Hutton.
Rosen’s first goal of the preseason would end up being the difference maker.
Buffalo continues to work out the kinks but it does appear that Phil Housley might have found a diamond in the rough with his Skinner – Eichel – Reinhart line.
Rasmus Dahlin had himself a rough evening against the Maple Leafs, which can be expected as he continues to adjust to the National Hockey League’s style of play.
Final Score: Leafs 3 | Sabres 2
Shots on Goal: Leafs 31 | Sabres 35
Sabres Goals: Okposo (1), Skinner (1)
Leafs Goals: Matthews (2), Bracco (2), Rosen (1)
Three Stars of the Game
1. Calle Rosen (game-winning goal)
2. Adam Brooks (2 assists)
3. Sam Reinhart (2 assists)