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Respect the best: Buffalo out-tanks Leafs (TOR: 4, BUF: 3 SO)

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Maple Leafs brought their A game to Buffalo tonight, amassing almost as many shots in the first two periods as Buffalo put up in the first 20 minutes. But alas, the Sabres were a tank on a mission, giving up two goals in the first period and the game tying goal with a little over four minutes left to play.

When nobody can play defense, there sure are a lot of sloppy opportunities. Sloppertunities. I was a big fan of putting Gardiner and Phaneuf together, but they spent most of the first period doing a poor job of covering the Sabres' lackluster forwards.

As has been the norm lately, the Leafs' depth players generated much of the offense early. Kozun and Komarov notched goals, with some really nice board work by David Booth on the latter of the two. MacWilliam was limited to under 12:30 (which seems like a missed tank move), but managed to notch his first NHL point with a nice pass across the neutral zone to Lindstrom, who centered the puck to Kozun.

Shootout specialist Tyler Bozak notched the only goal of the shootout, securing the extra point for Toronto. The good news is that it took the Leafs to the shootout to beat an awful team, so you wouldn't expect winning to become a chronic issue. The Leafs and the Hurricanes will play Buffalo one more time this season, so the next loss could be crucial. For the short term, though, the Leafs will face the Calgary Flames on Friday - the Flames are in a tight playoff race with the LA Kings (that probably feels as weird to read as it did to type).