Leafs even season series with Sabres
BY: JEFF SCHNEBERK
These Leafs vs Sabres games literally cannot get any closer.
Most of us wonder how they get so close in the first place.
They don’t seem willing or able half the time to compile three-20 minute periods in regulation time but when they make it this far, the overtime and the shootouts have been a lot of fun to watch.
It doesn’t make sense with this team most of the time, but when you get the win, who cares how you do it right?
The Maple Leafs have found themselves churning out points in shootouts, much to the anxiety and shagrin and whatever else you want to call it, of all of their fans nationwide.
Goaltender Jonathan Bernier stopped all three Sabre shooters he faced last night at the Air Canada Centre and Joffrey Lupul was the only player to score as Leafs topped Buffalo 4-3.
Here is the game in six minutes:Leafs beat Sabres
Leafs are now tied with the LA Kings with six victories in the shootout. Washington continues to lead the National Hockey League with 10. Five of Toronto’s shootout wins have come on home ice.
Matt Moulson scored in the first period for the visitors but he was denied by Bernier in the shootout, so was Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons.
Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller stopped both Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk but Lupul scored on a sweet backhanded where he put the puck into the midsection of the net.
Despite the win, Buffalo had been trailing 3-2 with 25 seconds left in the game when Steve Ott scored on a power play after Dion Phaneuf was off for hooking.
“That hurt,” said Toronto coach Randy Carlyle, whose crossed arms body language on the bench looked like he was suffering from a severe stomach ache.
Jake Gardiner, Peter Holland and Kessel had scored second-period goals to put Toronto ahead 3-2 as the Leafs rallied from an ugly start.
It appeared that would be enough for only the Leafs’ second regulation win in their last 19 outings. Toronto (19-16-5) was coming off shootout losses to the Rangers and Red Wings and early on looked like it was headed for disaster against the league’s worst team.
“We were like two different hockey clubs,” said Carlyle, who added most of the first-period woes were self-inflicted.
“The stress level goes up in games like this,” he added. “We don’t dwell on the negative (although) we’ll touch base with it. But the positive is we found a way to regroup and get ourselves back on track. But we have to play 60 minutes like we played the last two periods, as closer to it as we possibly can.
“It’s not easy winning in the NHL. It’s proved night in, night out. There’s a lot of shootouts taking place. We’re four in a row now.”
Despite Toronto’s shootout success, Carlyle is no fan.
“Do we like shootouts? No.”
“If there’s any merit to what we deserved tonight, it’s what we got,” he added. “It’s one of those things where we played as bad as we could play and still get a point. We got what we deserved tonight.”
NO SATURDAY NIGHTFor the first time this season there will be no Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada. There was last night though and there will be tomorrow.
With Toronto’s win over Buffalo they are tied with Detroit with 43 points heading into Saturday night’s games. Toronto leads Ottawa by six points. Carolina sits in seventh spot in the Metropolitan division with 37 points, yet four teams (Philadelphia, Columbus, NY Rangers and New Jersey) are all tied with 38 points.@Game7overtime