Sabres Trample Leafs at Heritage Classic
Buffalo’s fast and physical play was too much for Toronto in a 5-2 win
Score: Sabres - 5 | Maple Leafs - 2
Shots: BUF - 38 | TOR - 36
Buffalo Sabres goals: Krebs (5, 6), Hinostroza (9, 10), Thompson (24)
Toronto Maple Leafs goals: Kase (12), Matthews (45)
Plus 1: Rectifying the Past
Buffalo has not historically done well in outdoor games, from the Winter Classic in 2008 to the outdoor game in NYC.
They finally got another crack at it, this time against their northern rivals at the Heritage Classic in Hamilton.
Buffalo took on an offensive juggernaut in Toronto and held them to just two goals, while also potting five of their own. Winning an outdoor game for the first time is something Sabres fans can hang their hat on, but also doing it against the Maple Leafs?
Plus 2: Complete team effort
Buffalo’s victory against Vegas last Thursday was one of the most complete team performances of the season for the Sabres.
I can confidently say the same for their effort against the Leafs on Sunday afternoon.
Craig Anderson only let up two in net and while I’m sure he’d like to have Matthews’ goal back, he stopped many other high-quality scoring chances from #34 and was very solid all game. Young defensemen like Dahlin, Jokiharju, Bryson and Samuelsson continue to improve and show maturity in the back end, something the Sabres have lacked for years. The offense is also looking rejuvenated, with the depth outside the top line beginning to take shape as both Krebs and Hinostroza each scored a pair against the Leafs.
Although this Sabres team may not be the most talented in the NHL, every night they seem hungry and ready to work. Maybe there is some light at the end of the tunnel after all...
Plus 3: Sticking up for one another
While the game was a little chippy in the first 40 minutes of play, the third period was a whole different scenario. Late in the third with Buffalo holding a 4-2 lead, Auston Matthews and Rasmus Dahlin’s fight in front of the net turned nasty, with Matthews eventually cross-checking Dahlin across the neck. In the past, Sabres faithful have hoped for retaliation in events like these, with many similar situations happening with no response.
But that was the past.
Enter, Dylan Cozens.
Shortly after Matthews had left the penalty box, Cozens caught him with his head down at center ice with a clean, hard hit that immediately sparked a chain reaction from both teams. Not only did Cozens dish out the hit and answer to the response as other Leafs players charged him, he also stayed and sat outside the glass watching the final few minutes of play. After the game, Dahlin brought up the incident stating, “I just want to talk about Cozey, what he did. You can really see we’re brothers.”
Dylan Cozens lays a clean, hard hit on Austin Matthews #LetsGoBuffalo pic.twitter.com/pOe2Gr3QhU— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) March 13, 2022
Rasmus Dahlin is starting to turn into the player Sabres fans had hoped he would, as he continues to impress and even tried to score between his legs on the breakaway, which was only foiled by a rolling puck.
While I mostly enjoyed the broadcast on TNT, at times they seemed to talk about everything else other than the actual game itself. Hard to question the Great One though, who was a guest during the majority of the broadcast.
It was very much enjoying seeing the boys roll up to the game in matching Flint Tropics uniforms, an idea donated by Cody Eakin (who’s suddenly becoming a fan favorite). With how Buffalo played Sunday against the Leafs, maybe that attire should become the standard.
Next up: Buffalo heads out on a road trip to western Canada, starting with Edmonton on Thursday, March 17th at 9 pm.