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Sabres put up a touchdown, humiliate Maple Leafs 9-3

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Photo credit:Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
2 months ago
After a mediocre three-game homestand, which saw Toronto go 1-1-1 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins, and New York Rangers, the Maple Leafs headed out on the road to begin a mini two-game road trip against the Buffalo Sabres last night for the second meeting of the season.

First period:

Both teams came into last night’s game with the urge to bounce back, given how their previous games went. The Sabres were embarrassed by the Blue Jackets 9-4, and the Maple Leafs lost a weird 5-2 game to the Rangers, which saw three goals go off Toronto players.
Buffalo came to play early on and Toronto didn’t. It was as straightforward as that. The Sabres jumped out to an early shot advantage and scored the game’s first goal, as Jordan Greenway beat Ilya Samsonov from distance, and everybody in that arena and watching on TV knew it was a shot Samsonov should’ve stopped.
Despite being outshot 6-0 through the first seven minutes, the Maple Leafs gained the offensive zone and had a little bit of offensive zone time. With the puck on Auston Matthews’ stick, defended by Mattias Samuelsson in the corner, he spun off the Sabre defender and fired it toward the net, somehow beating Devon Levi to tie the game at one.
After Samuelsson got put in the spin cycle on that Matthews goal, he took a penalty to put Toronto on the power play. Unfortunately, they didn’t score on the first man advantage, but luckily for the Maple Leafs, Jack Quinn was whistled for high-sticking, and Toronto had themselves a 5-on-3 power play for a brief moment.
With the first man advantage over, Max Domi wired his third of the season past Levi to take the 2-1 lead.
However, that lead would only last a little over a minute, as Owen Power scored his second of the season with the net wide open after Samsonov slid out of the way on the initial scoring chance. With the recent history between these two teams and four goals combined between them midway through the period, it was clear that this game was going to be a game where defence was optional. Well, that turned out to be accurate two minutes later. With roughly four minutes left in the first period, Mitch Marner gifted Alex Tuch the puck in the defensive zone, who fed Jeff Skinner, and he roofed home his 13th of the season to give his club the lead again.
Toronto entered the first intermission down 3-2, outshot 13-10, and looking embarrassed given where the Sabres sit in the standings.

Second period:

Down 3-2 entering the second period, Toronto needed to come out with more urgency. The Maple Leafs went back on the power play roughly 20 seconds into the period as Alex Tuch was whistled for hooking. Unfortunately, despite some decent looks, the Sabres killed off the penalty, and the Maple Leafs remained down by one goal.
With the power plays 3-0 in favour of Toronto, it was evident Buffalo would get the next couple, and that’s what happened. Noah Gregor and Simon Benoit were whistled for tripping and holding, sending the Sabres to their first 5-on-3 power play. Rasmus Dahlin would score his ninth of the season with a wrister that beat Samsonov from distance. Another brutal goal was allowed by the netminder, and Toronto was now down 4-2.
The second part of the 5-on-3 power play was still alive for Buffalo, but it was Toronto who scored. William Nylander and Calle Jarnkrok sprung on a short-handed 2-on-1, and Jarnkrok potted home his eighth of the season to get back within one goal.
However, similar to their previous goals, Toronto would allow Buffalo to score again soon after. William Nylander lost possession of the puck in the offensive zone, and the Sabres went the other way. Tage Thompson cut to the inside in the offensive zone, threw the puck toward the net, and again, it beat Samsonov from distance. That fifth goal was enough for Sheldon Keefe to pull Samsonov from the game, and Martin Jones came in relief. It sucks that the first look Jones saw since coming into the game was a short-handed breakaway from Kyle Okposo, and he roofed his seventh of the season to give Buffalo the three-goal lead.
It was an even worse period for Toronto compared to the first period. They entered the second intermission down 6-3, outshot 23-16, and looked like they didn’t care too much about playing this game.

Third period:

After watching Toronto look uninterested for 40 minutes and enter the final period of regulation down 6-3, you wondered if they had a third-period comeback up their sleeve as they did against Columbus last week when they scored five unanswered to force overtime. However, there was little doubt they could replicate that period because what are the chances they complete two massive third-period comebacks in a week?
Well, they indeed did not come back as they did against Columbus. They proceeded to give up three more goals to the Sabres, as they lost in humiliating fashion 9-3 against a divisional opponent who remains seven points out of a playoff spot.
Jack Quinn, Jeff Skinner and Kyle Okposo scored Buffalo’s seventh, eighth and ninth goals of the night in a 3:54 second span.

Who stood out:

Nobody.
Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh.
Auston Matthews scored again. He extended his lead in the Rocket Richard race with his 26th goal of the season.
Outside of that, nobody looked good, in my opinion. They all looked disinterested from the drop of the puck to the final horn. And losing 9-3 to an inferior opponent should leave a sour taste in your mouth as you head into the weekend, set to play a Columbus team that beat you 6-5 in overtime last week on your home ice.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game Saturday night when they continue on the road to play the Columbus Blue Jackets. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.
(Stats from Hockey-Reference.com)
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