Score: Sabres 2, Leafs 5
Shots: Buffalo 34, Toronto 23
Buffalo Sabres: Goals: Alex Tuch (9), Casey Mittelstadt (5)
Toronto Maple Leafs: Goals: John Tavares (10), Calle Jarnkrok (4), Mark Giordano (1), William Nylander (9), (10)
Plus 1: Sabres Score on the Power Play
Both Buffalo goals came during power plays. 8:07 in the second period, Auston Matthews received two minutes for an illegal check to the head against Casey Mittelstadt. Alex Tuch deflected a Dylan Cozens wrist shot past Leafs goalie Matt Murray in the PP’s waning seconds to put the Sabres on the board.
Late in the third, with 5:03 to go, Mittelstadt scored a wrister of his own during a Timothy Liljegren boarding penalty against Peyton Krebs to make it 5-2 Toronto. In each instance, Buffalo controlled the puck, showed patience and got it in the net. The Sabres’ power plays have been generally terrible since time immemorial, so it was great to see them get points on the board with the man advantage.
Minus 1: Poor Puck Control, Defense Hurt Buffalo’s Chances
Despite glimpses of strong puck control during the game, the Sabres had trouble controlling the puck, defending their own net or dictating the course of play during most of 60 minutes. Too often, the Leafs could station attackers in front of UPL and redirect the puck into the net, skate down fast to score quick shots and generally control the game from start to finish.
After Buffalo let in three goals in the first period (one with help from video reviewers), the Leafs gave the Sabres three power play opportunities in the second. Buffalo only managed to score on one of them, while the Leafs easily got one in the net when William Nylander backhanded the puck past Luukkonen to give Toronto a 4-1 lead.
The Sabres struggled to play catch up most of the night and thanks to missed chances and poor defense, couldn’t turn things around.
Minus 2: NHL Shortchanges the Sabres Again
After giving up two goals in the first, the Sabres had a chance to score with a PP opportunity. Buffalo lost control of the puck and the Leafs quickly moved it down the ice. Mitch Marner passed the puck to Mark Giordano, but Alex Tuch collided with the Sabres’ net and knocked it out of position before Giordano made a shot that crossed the goal line.
Initially, the refs called a no goal and gave Tuch two minutes for delay of game. When the video reviewers looked at the play, they overturned it, claiming the Leafs had an “imminent scoring opportunity”, awarded them the goal and voided Tuch’s penalty. NHL officials seem to outdo themselves with new and creative ways to screw over the Sabres. “Imminent Scoring Opportunity” can now join “No Goal” on the NHL’s Blatant Bias Wall of Shame.
Rexachs had the Comment of the Game: “The 1st 10 games I was looking for places at work to hide to watch the games…I miss that team”. Buffalo has been a tale of two franchises in October and November. The Sabres won six out of their first nine games in October, but only managed one victory in November and are on an eight-game losing streak.
The Buffalo Sabres started the season off strong, getting fans excited and beating most of their opponents. Since the calendar turned, however, the team has been awful, letting good opponents and bad beat them with ease. The fanbase deserves better and it’s past time they saw some improvement and wins on the ice.
Buffalo travels to Montreal to face the Canadiens on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.