The Leafs had another strong performance against Buffalo for the second night in a row, except this time the Leafs were playing their B-squad against the Sabres A-squad. Unfortunately for the Sabres, the results did not change, as the Leafs would win 3-1.
James van Riemsdyk-Tyler Bozak-Mitch Marner
Carl Grundstrom-Eric Fehr-Kasperi Kapanen
Kerry Rychel-Dominic Moore-Andreas Johnsson
Nikita Soshnikov-Brendan Smith-Rich Clune
Jake Gardiner-Nikita Zaitsev
Calle Rosen-Connor Carrick
Martin Marincin-Rinat Valiev
Matt Moulson-Jack Eichel-Kyle Okposo
Evander Kane-Sam Reinhart-Jason Pominville
Kyle Smith-Johan Larsson-Hudson Fasching
Nicolas Deslauriers-Kyle Criscuolo-Justin Bailey
Nathan Beaulieu-Rasmus Ristolainen
Brendan Guhle-Matt Tennyson
Josh Gorges-Victor Antipin
Robin Lehner (start)
The Leafs came out flying in the first period, and were all over the puck. It seemed like more often than not, the Leafs had the puck in the Sabres end and were generating chances. In fact, the Sabres didn’t even get a shot attempt until almost six minutes into the game.
JvR with the bar down snipe pic.twitter.com/EzraghpNhs
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) September 23, 2017
This occurred right after the Leafs opened the scoring, as Nikita Zaitsev’s shot would find it’s way onto James van Riemsdyk’s stick, who would bury it into the empty net. Not that the Sabres had their goalie pulled or anything, it’s just that Robin Lehner was way out of the crease, and had four skaters behind him. Both Josh Gorges and Martin Marincin would get penalties later on in the period, giving both teams an opportunity on the power play, but JVR’s tally would be the lone goal of the 1st, with the Leafs dominating the 5v5 score adjusted shot attempts 22-8.
The Sabres put on a bit more pressure in the second, as the scoring chances were a lot more back and forth between the two teams. The Sabres had a couple power play opportunities early on in the period, and looked good, which makes sense, because most of this team’s offensive weapons get their points on the power play. The pressure would until the last few minutes of the period, where a Rasmus Ristolainen shot deflected off of Hudson Fasching and in, for the Sabres first goal against the Leafs this preseason.
They almost got another opportunity a couple minutes later, as Evander Kane was left wide open in front of the net, but Frederik Andersen would make a nice pad save to keep the game tied. And Kane would immediately trip Andreas Johnsson to give the Leafs a power play to end the period, although the Leafs didn’t capitalize on it. The Leafs would conclude the period, out-attempting the Sabres 13-11.
The Leafs made a goalie change during the intermission, as Kasimir Kaskisuo would enter the game. The third period opened with a slashing penalty from Matt Moulson, and the Leafs would capitalize quickly. Kasperi Kapanen would bury a rebound after Connor Carrick made a nifty play, and that would give the Leafs the lead again.
Kasperi Kapanen deposits the rebound on the PP after a great play by Connor Carrick. pic.twitter.com/yY2ajY2khc
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) September 24, 2017
After that, not much else happened. The Leafs and Sabres traded chances, and both goalie were up to the task. The Leafs would bury the game late in the third, as Nikita Soshnikov would score an empty net goal to give the Leafs a 3-1 lead, and that would be it, as the Leafs would take the preseason series 2-0, and improve their record to 2-2. The Leafs would finish the game out-attempting the Sabres 55-30 in 5v5 Score Adjusted Corsi, including 15-14 in the third.
This was a great all-around effort from the Leafs, considering that this was their B-squad going up against the Sabres A-squad. The Leafs ended up with a 60.24% 5v5 Score Adjusted Corsi, despite their best line being JVR-Bozak-Marner, which in a normal game would be getting sheltered, and they were up against most of the Sabres better players, like Eichel, Kane, Okposo, Pominville, Reinhart, and Ristolainen. In fact, the Leafs held the Kane-Reinhart-Pominville line to under 30%.
The goaltending was excellent in this game. Andersen was almost perfect, except for one wrist shot that got deflected right in front of him, so not much that could be blamed on him. Kaskisuo was flawless in relief, especially considering he faced the most pressure from the Sabres in the third, but he shut the door. Lehner was good too, but I don’t think we care about him too much.
On the back end, the Rosen-Carrick pairing was excellent in this game, so it’ll be interesting to see if they get a chance in the regular season for a bit, considering the impression that Rosen has left so far. The Rychel-Moore-Johnsson line also had a strong night, although they weren’t rewarded on the score sheet.
My three stars for the evening:
1. Connor Carrick
2. James van Riemsdyk
3. Frederik Andersen
All in all, it was a strong showing from the buds, considering that not much was expected out of the B-squad tonight. Some of the younger players left some strong impressions, so it’ll be interesting to see how the lineup begins to unfold as opening night approaches.
Tune in to the next preseason game on Monday, Sept. 25, as the Leafs play another game at Ricoh Coliseum against the Montreal Canadiens at 7:30 pm on TSN4.