Maple Leafs 4 v. Sabres 2: That One Time


 

I haven't watched that movie in a while but it's an underrated story of effort triumphing over pure skill. The gist is, that just like tonight, it only takes one time for Danny O'Shea or any underdog to beat Kevin O'Shea. Tonight, after nine straight losses to the Buffalo Sabres, the Toronto Maple Leafs finally broke the mini-hex (the larger hex will take forever to balance out) with a 4-2 win at the Air Canada Centre. No one could have predicted that the baby buds would defeat the Sabres when it was announced that Ryan Miller would be the starter. No one except for one man: 

It’ll be our day eventually. It could even be our day today.

- Chemmy

Viktor Stalberg opened the scoring with a nice wrist shot after Tyler Bozak carried the puck from his own end, through the Sabres, around the back of the net, and found the Swede in the slot. The play featured heavily as Pierre McGuire morphed into Monster mode in order to gush over the emerging talent. The comparisons to Doug Gilmour, while tasty, are definitely premature. I mean, I see it, but I'd rather not place any confidence in it...yet.

Corsi and Fenwick | Head-to-Head TOI | EV Face-Offs | Shift Charts
Game Summary
| Event Summary Die By The Blade

 

The Sabres tied the game up shortly thereafter when they got a powerplay courtesy of Brayden Irwin's first career penalty. Overall, the rookie had a pretty quiet game. He definitely screams project as his skating is not up to scratch and he missed a goal because he was too soft on the puck. Not that his fans were discouraged:

Brayden Irwin's friends/family are the only ones left in the stands at ACC. The just chanted "Irwin! Irwin!" when he came out to see them.

- Chris Johnston

The Leafs played a pretty strong game at evens. Phil Kessel, Nikolai Kulemin, Mikhail Grabovski, Dion Phaneuf, and Francois Beauchmin dominated Corsi and created a number of great chances. The prettiest one was the one that Garnett Exelby - yes, that Exelby - finished after some quick passing sent Kessel and Grabovski in on a 2-on-1. With Miller out of position Grabovski, for some reason, decided to pass back to Kessel and he was incredulous. Luckily, Exelby got lost and was below the top of the circle and potted his first in over 150 games. The trio of forwards looked decent as they did a pretty good job controlling the play down low. That left the Frat Pack of Stalberg - Bozak - Christian Hanson together for another strong effort.

The lead was short-lived once again as Steve Montador picked the top corner on a broken rush. That set the stage for Luke Schenn to score the game-winnin goal as his point shot in the third was deflected near the blueline and ended up in the top corner. Fredrik Sjostrom added a fourth into an empty net after John Mitchell did some great work along the boards to win the puck. Unfortunately, the other teams that the Leafs are chasing won as Philadelphia rolled over for the Islanders and Florida shut out the perpetually toothless Bruins.

 

Ron Wilson's press conference has a lot of good information including some talk about how Bozak is driving the offence, Phil Kessel might hopefully play with Kadri next year, and Grabovski and Kulemin form a great pairing.

 

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