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Maple Leafs lay siege to Carter Hutton, beat the Sabres 4-2

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Auston Matthews was brilliant in a win that should have been easier than Hutton made it.

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Okay, come on, guys. Just take this one 8-2 or something.

First Period

The Leafs pressure immediately and look very much in command.

I see Igor Ozhiganov out with Jake Muzzin, which is a good idea. With a hand holder, Ozzie is likely safer out there than Justin Holl at times.

The Leafs look like a team that held Nashville to evens on shot share and Buffalo ain’t Nashville.

Because I said that, the John Tavares line gets hemmed in, and Sparks finds his own rebound.

Kappy has a great chance that just didn’t go in.

Sparks gets dumped onto his butt, and the Leafs are on the PP.

Jake Muzzin on the PP, in the defensive zone has no other defender to pass to, so he finds a forward. He can’t stop doing this D to D pass thing.

Nylander with the only top chance on the PP.

JT with a chance. Hutton will have to be like Rinne for the Sabres to survive this.

The Leafs just keep pressuring, and so far Hutton has been good and lucky both.

Casey Mittlestadt takes the puck off of Holl like the proverbial candy, and then JT returns the favour.

Nic Petan is making his case for more games with a nice shot on net. Trevor Moore is right in the crease too, being a pest. These two are cooking the last two games.

Jake Eichel knocks William Nylander down in a stupid and mildly dangerous way, and he gets two minutes or less to be mad in the box about it.

Another good power play, where the plentiful rebounds off of Hutton’s pads are just a touch too far one way or the other.

The Sabres get a shorty break, and Sparks makes his third save of the game. Third.

Evan Rodrigues sits on the puck for the final few seconds, and that power play is done, and the Sabres have a look about them of a team coming to life.

You know, you might be a bad team when Ron Hainsey is doing zone exit denial like he was meant for it.

Zach Hyman takes a hooking call, and the Sabres have a power play.

Mitch Marner has moved to full-time first-unit PK man. And he’s getting really good at it. The PK in Nashville was the most aggressive I have ever seen the Leafs play, but Nashville can’t set up a PP with a map and directions.

Okey dokey. This is not a great goaltending performance on this goal.

The commentary says the play “puts Sparks out of position” at first, but he put himself out there when he decided to swim for it, and he can’t get back, and that’s a backup for you, I guess.

1-0 Sabres.

The fourth line gets stuck failing on a few zone exits, but at no time does Petan stand around in the high slot sort of confused. They make it out alive too.

And Hyman takes another penalty! Zach, what are you doing. Oh, wait. Tim Peel game. Never mind trying to make sense of how a soft call gets called and a mugging won’t.

Sabres to the man advantage, and Kappy with a good chance. The period expires with about half the power play to go, and the Sabres with one attempt in their first half.

Thoughts

Note: this is all situations

You just have to laugh.

Second Period

There were a lot of great plays in the first period. Nice passes, slick moves, all of that. This is not that:

1-1 on the scoreboard.

It is a process goal though. Got to the net, good things happen is process hockey. Matthews with 199 points now, so I say let’s make that a nice round number with another one.

Every time the Leafs are in the zone, they are standing three deep in the blue paint.

Ahhhh. Sparks scrambles and starts to swim out, but Matthews gets the puck away from him and moves up ice. Whew.

I think Matthews just had three shot attempts in under three seconds. He is totally on.

The Leafs are on the power play again for another dumb cross check from the Sabres.

Petan, who is no Tyler Ennis on the power play, gives the puck to Jack Eichel, and then Petan blows a shoe and accidentally(?) bowls everyone over on the backcheck. Sparks had the save anyway.

Zach Bogosian takes Zach Hyman’s stick and throws it away. Is that a penalty? No, it is not.

Kapanen is clipped in the ear by a stick, and there is no penalty, of course.

The Leafs are lacking the same intensity they’ve had so far, but that’s like saying the pot is merely simmering instead of boiling over.

Whoo hoo. Okay, backing up. First Matthews made this super neat stick to skate to stick deke to move it behind the net. He was deking out Risto, so he likely could have taken it easy there, but then he dishes to Nylander who tries, fails, and JT pots the rebound:

2-1 Leafs.

Thoughts

Who’s been good?

  • Matthews, oh, and Matthews, and we shouldn’t forget Matthews
  • Kappy
  • Nylander
  • The Tavares line
  • Petan and Moore at five-on-five
  • Ron Hainsey and Morgan Rielly are in the offensive zone a tonne, so they look okay and fantastic, respectively
  • Nikita Zaitsev with his second game in a row of massive Corsi success
  • And last, and not least: Carter Hutton who has made 36 saves to Sparks 14.

Third Period

LOL. Marner gets a dribbler past Hutton after being given a free pass to the slot:

3-1 Leafs.

Matthews nearly scores. And now, I’m going to stop, because if I list every chance, I’ll give myself carpal tunnel from typing too much.

Whoa, the great Nordic battle is on behind the net. Kapanen v Dahlin. Kappy pretty much picks him up and tosses him aside after a bit of a rough ride along the boards.

Justin Holl with the net wide open, so the play was whistled dead because... I have no idea. It was too easy?

Nylander picks the puck up at centre ice and gains the zone, and then he just waits in the slot for a pass, and boom, his first goal of the year. Yeah, that Nylander.

3-2 Leafs.

That was a beauty of a shot, top corner, opposite to Willie’s favourite spot.

Okay this is all going wrong. Muzzin takes a hard hit and is obviously feeling it, then Johnsson gets checked into the spot on the glass by the bench, and then Matthews takes a puck to the face.

I don’t like this.

Brandon Montour gets a post, and this game looks less easy at the moment.

A Tavares line shift makes things look okay again.

Moore got a shift with the Matthews line, but Johnsson is back for the next one.

Sparks is suddenly busy, and so far, so good.

There are a lot of whistles in the last few minutes, and with three left, it’s almost time for the Sabres to pull their best player off the ice.

Whoa, what a save on Matthews by Hutton. The two best players on the ice, one-on-one.

Hutton can’t leave until there’s 1:30 left.

Hyman (who else?) with an empty net goal.

4-2 Leafs.

Thoughts

This game was like playing a video game on easy level because you’ve had a bad week and want the endorphin hit from success.

Hit me again.