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Postgame: Stick A Sabre In It

It wasn’t always pretty, but the Leafs reigned supreme over the Buffalo Sabres, 5-3. The Leafs spent large chunks of the game looking unstoppable, and others looking painfully sloppy. But a win’s a win.

And with that win, the Leafs pull to within one point of the Boston Bruins for home ice advantage in the playoffs, with each team having 62 games under their belt.

1st Period

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Leafs did not start on time. Like… at all, during the first period.

The Sabres caved the Leafs in 16-6 in the shots column, with the Leafs’ only dangerous chance coming shorthanded courtesy of Mitch Marner.

Right at the beginning of a Too Many Men penalty at the end of the 1st, Jack Eichel ripped a shot past Frederik Andersen to put the Sabres up 1-0 heading into intermission.

2nd Period

Straight. Into. My. Veins.

The Leafs come out on fire in the second, scoring three times in just 2:04 to chase Hutton and take a 3-1 lead.

Tavares’ goal was his 35th on the season, and Matthews’ was his 30th. I think they’re pretty good.

The Buds would follow up their scoring surge with a dominant stretch at the midpoint of the period in which Matthews, Tavares and Kapanen (amongst others) had a flurry of golden opportunities, but couldn’t beat Linus Ullmark.

Until…

Ennis the Menace notches his 9th of the season off a beautiful pass from Freddie the Goat. A dominant performance from the fourth line continues, and it’s 4-1 good guys.

Late in the period, with Jake Muzzin already in the box for interference, Nikita Zaitsev was also reprimanded for tripping, and the Leafs would go down 5-on-3.

Sam Reinhart would score in the dying seconds of the initial penalty to bring the game back within a two-goal reach, 4-2.

That’s all the period wrote. A relatively dominant period for the Leafs for the most part, as they’d carry a 2-goal lead into the third.

3rd Period

Nine seconds in…

Not ideal. Eichel notches his 2nd of the night to put the Sabres within one.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom early for the Leafs, however. Frederik Andersen would make a massive save off of Jason Pominville, who is somehow still a Sabre in 2019:

A thing of beauty.

The Sabres continued to make a serious push throughout the third period, and with Auston Matthews in the box for tripping Sam Reinhart in the final five minutes of the third, all of the momentum seemed to be moving in Buffalo’s direction.

Luckily… THAT’S KAPPY!

Kapanen scores his 19th of the season on a shorthanded break, and the Leafs double down on their lead, and keep it for good. 5-3 is your final.

Corsis

via Natural Stat Trick

A relatively even game, all things considered. The Leafs dominated the high danger chances, while the Sabres had a slight edge on possession (likely due in part to score effects and the lopsided first period as well).

Who wore the Crown?

After every Leaf game, we’re recognizing one Leaf player who best exemplified what it means to play hockey the “Toronto Way”: with heart and soul, above all else. Who wore the Crown is brought to you by Crown Royal, passionate fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

With the milestone on the night, Auston Matthews is a clear choice for the Crown of the Game. Matthews looks poised to potentially best his 40-goal rookie campaign, all despite missing 13 games to injury. A phenomenal milestone in a great game in a great season.

Socials

Same.

The Auston Matthews effect.

Yes, yes they are.

Back at it on Wednesday night with the Oilers in town. Goodnight, Leafs Nation!

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