Dion Phaneuf looked more like a leader than ever tonight, since the Leafs beat the Sabres 4-2. Ben Scrivens was called up to replace the injured Jonas Gustavsson, and his 29 saves on 32 shots were brilliantly motivated by the inspirational angle at which Captain Dion left the volume knob in the locker room. The team gained the zone offensive zone with ease, set the second highest number of shots on goal this far in the Carlyle era, at 30 (second only to the March 3rd game against Montreal, which had 42), which has every writer at the Toronto Star wondering: What media event did Dion Phaneuf go to that lead the team put a win on the board?
Your goal by goal breakdown:
- Joey Crabb picks off a pass, gets a breakaway, and scores a short handed goal. Seriously.
- Gardiner pinches to give Buffalo a 3-on-1, and Stafford puts a nice pass on the stick of Tyler Ennis, who sends it home.
- Phil Kessel rips a wrist shot through the legs of Ryan Miller on the power play, which sets a new single-season career high for goals at 37 on the year.
- The Leafs crash the Sabres net and John-Michael Liles deflects the puck into the net with his skate at 19:59 in the second. After video review, the goal stands.
- Ville Leino decided to spare one of his exclusive playoff goals tonight, bringing his season total up to 7 in 68 games played. Who knows, maybe in the next five years of that $4.5 million contract, he'll be able to keep up this production.
- MacArthur and Bozak take two Buffalo Sabres defensemen into the zone as a 2-on-2, and Matt Frattin crosses in nicely from the right wing to make it a 3-on-2. MacArthur passes to the high man, Frattin, who beats a sliding Miller.
- Drew Stafford gets enough time and space to get Leaf fans nervous, but the score ends at 4-3.
A couple miscellaneous thoughts:
- Scrivens challenges the shooter better than any other Leaf goaltender right now. When he was in too deep - and he was too deep on the Leino and Stafford goals - it was because he backed in too far, not because he started there. He's played his way out of the AHL, and I don't think he looked out of place in the show tonight.
- Scrivens still hasn't proven anything meaningful at the NHL level, but does anyone think Jonas Gustavsson makes those 29 saves on 32 shots tonight? Goaltending matters. A lot. (Side note: Marlies get a 1-0 win tonight. Owuya with a 27-save shutout.)
- I think it's safe to say that this win was helped by Ehrhoff and Meyers being out. The Leafs coasted through the blueline, flustered the breakout with single forwards, and the Sabres trusted their offensive options so little that with under a minute to play and an icing call against the Leafs, six Buffalo forwards were on the ice.
- Yeah, there's the obvious issue that tonight's win moves us higher in the standings - tied with the Islanders (who have a game in hand) - but it was fun to play spoilers tonight, and at the end of the day, I'm not going to complain about the Leafs winning. The Caps tied the Sabres in points by beating Montreal (in a shootout) tonight, and have a game in hand over Buffalo, who will play the Leafs, Bruins, and Flyers to finish out the season. Tonight's loss probably gives them the Toronto Maple Leafs 9th Place Slot (TM). This, of course, will prevent Ville Leino from showing the world how clutch he can be.