The Sabres and Leafs don’t like each other. As both rebuilds get stronger this is going to be a hell of a rivalry.
The Sabres spent the morning being asked to talk about the fact that they’re out of the playoffs, behind Toronto in the standings, that their rebuild didn’t get off to as much of a roaring start as Toronto’s.
Then they stepped onto the ice in an arena full of vocal Leafs fans. This was an angry team the Leafs faced, and they showed it from the start.
Right off the bat, the Sabres started by pinning the Leafs in their own zone. Both teams attacked with odd-man rushes and both Frederik Andersen and Robin Lehner had to make some fast, smart saves.
The Sabres struck first.
Ryan O’Reilly taps in a beautiful pass from Tyler Ennis and it’s 1-0
At this point the Leafs are already being outshot and Lehner is obviously on his game.
Jake Gardiner gets a massive hit on Jack Eichel to roars of approval and defiance from various sides of the crowd. It also gets the Leafs the puck.
Connor Brown grabs Leo Komarov’s rebound and sends it right through Lehner to tie things up for all of 15 seconds.
Evander Kane sweeps the puck round past Andersen and Marchenko to take a 2-1 lead. There was a possibility the Leafs were going to challenge for offside, but Babcock decided not to.
To this point in the game things have been messy around the Leafs’ net. The Sabres are getting too many chances in close.e decides to not
The Leafs get the first power play of the game but nothing goes in.
Kadri and Kulikov both get taken off - there’s some confusion as to why Kadri also went off. I was hoping the more open ice of 4 on 4 play would help the Leafs, but Buffalo dominated.
The second period started with Curtis McElhinney in net and Andersen nowhere to be seen. Eventually we were told it was an upper body injury and Andersen would be out the rest of the game. Nobody’s worried. Why would anyone be worried?
Auston Matthews makes everyone feel better early on by scoring on Lehner like it’s nothing. That makes the 34th goal for #34, tying Wendel Clark’s record for most goals in a rookie season.
Then Matt Martin gets called for interference, and we get a chance to see what McElhinney is made of.
Holes, apparently. Eichel scores a beauty up high only nine seconds into the power play.
Two and a half minutes later, Jake Gardiner is called for hooking and the second-best power play in the league goes to work again.
The game’s not quite lost yet, but it’s obviously a battle. The Leafs get opportunities, but Lehner shuts them down.
Jack Eichel, who will be a scourge to the Leafs for years to come, basically ends the game with this goal with 6:48 left in the second period. 5-2 .
The third period is a tale told by an idiot (Marner passes to Martin of all people), full of sound and fury (the Leafs were definitely not as effective as they’d like to be but they were still fighting), signifying nothing.
The next game is Tuesday at the ACC against the Panthers. Freddie will be fine by then right? I was convinced every shot on McElhinney was going in, and there are no good options waiting on the Marlies. I know Tuesday night isn’t optimal for a teacher, but maybe Christina Kessler wouldn’t mind stepping in?