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Postgame: Back At It

Before the game, I tweeted:

People got mad at me, obviously, because of course I’d jinxed the team, right?

Wrong. The Leafs won, and they looked damn good doing it. With the win, the Buds improve to 93 points on the season, and crawl out of their recent stretch of dreadful play with a dominant all-around performance.

1st Period

The first period was one that the Leafs completely dominated from the get-go. The Buds through shot after shot on the Buffalo net, but Carter Hutton was up to the task.

Auston Matthews was making a fool of the Sabres, as his line had a couple of tremendous looks. It was, however, to no avail early on.

Later in the period, with Zach Hyman in the box for hooking, Casey Mittelstadt put one past Garret Sparks to make it 1-0 Sabres.

Kapanen had some stellar changes as well in the opening frame, but the period would end with the Leafs down 1-0 despite outshooting Buffalo 19-7.

2nd Period

Early in the frame…

Andreas Johnsson throws one in front of the net while Carter Hutton veering out of the crease. The puck goes off Auston Matthews’ foot and in, and the Leafs tie the game 1-1 on a greasy one.

The score would stay tied through most of the period, despite the Leafs’ every effort to pull ahead. Auston Matthews had a couple more great looks, including a partial breakway, but missed the net.

Then, with just 1:28 left to go…

William Nylander, who was buzzing all night, rings one off the crossbar, and it looks as if the Leafs’ snakebitten night was to continue. However, quite the opposite! The puck bounces off the crossbar and away, hits Rasmus Ristolainen, and bounces back into the crease, where John Tavares finds it. He notches his 41st, and it’s 2-1 good guys.

That’s how the second would end. The Leafs continue their utter dominance of the Sabres on the shot clock, outshooting them 38-15 overall through 2, while leading 2-1.

3rd Period

Right out of the gate, Mitch Marner cuts out to the middle of the ice and juuuust squeaks the puck past Carter Hutton after the puck hits of Rasmus Ristolainen’s skate. 3-1 Leafs!

Later in the frame, Alex Nylander gets the puck high in the slot and rips one past Garret Sparks. 3-2.

In an unfortunate sequence, Andreas Johnsson would get smeared by Casey Nelson, and would stay on the bench briefly before heading to the dressing room, though he would eventually return.

Moments later, Auston Matthews took a Ron Hainsey feed in the face, but was no worse for wear either, save for a bit of a bloody nose. Deep breaths.

Speaking of Johnsson and Matthews, the two would break loose for an odd-man rush late in the frame, but Hutton responded with a great cross-crease save on Auston.

In the final minute of the frame, with the Sabres pressuring hard, Zach Hyman was around for the trust empty netter – his 18th goal on the season – and the Leafs close things out, sweeping the season series against the Sabres with a convincing 4-2 win.

Corsis (via Natural Stat Trick)

A convincing one for the Leafs, who never let this game out of their grasp from start to finish. Even as the Sabres began pressing following their second goal on the night, the Leafs – save for a couple of minutes – held it together, and closed out the game as strong as they started.

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. 

Auston Matthews was electrifying tonight. Although his one goal (his 35th on the season) was a lucky bounce, Matthews controlled the game and tortured the Sabres from the start of the night onward. With six shots on the night through 16:10 of ice time, Matthews absolutely deserves the crown.

Socials

Hell yeah they did.

Back at it on Saturday against the Rangers. Buds All Day, baby!