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Leafs win 5-4, but got outplayed by the Sabres

The SABRES!

Toronto Maple Leafs v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Ben Green/NHLI via Getty Images

There was entirely too much offense from the Buffalo Sabres to open this game. Two shots in the first minute. Disgusting.

The Sabres also play some good defense? They crowd the crease and lie down to block a shot, and they stop David Kämpf from taking a shot but he gets the tip of his stick and slightly nudges the puck, and it slowly slides through the defenders, under Aaron Dell, and just over the line into the net. It’s amazing.

1-0 Maple Leafs.

Okay, I stopped laughing at the goal and we’re halfway through the period. The Maple Leafs finally get their second shot on net - first actual shot - and that’s a little worrying. It hasn't been bad, they’ve played well, just an odd game so far. TJ Brodie was called for hooking, and the Sabres power play is very disorganized and can’t keep control of the puck. Such a shame.

The Leafs start picking up their play, spending more time with the puck, less time in their end, and we start seeing some new players take shots.

The Sabres take advantage of the rookie goalie’s debut and catch him too far across the crease and Jeff Skinner scores on Woll. Jeff. Skinner.

Buffalo then go right on the power play when Pierre Engvall gets called for hooking Robert Hagg. Another hooking penalty, but another power play where the Sabres do absolutely nothing. Good job Sabres.

The Sabres at even strength are much more dangerous with the man advantage however. At the end of the first they spend a lot of time in front of Woll and pepper him with shots, but the Leafs band together to make it difficult, Woll makes the needed saves, and the first ends 1-1. Shots are 13-5 for Buffalo.

In the second the Maple Leafs come out hot, looking to make up for the Sabres offensive dominance. Auston Matthews right away shoots down into the Sabres zone, but can’t get the shot on net.

Shots in the period are 4-2 when Ondřej Kaše decides enough is enough, and breaks the tie to make it 2-1 Leafs. This is his third straight game with a goal.

The Leafs aren’t done yet, as Michael Bunting parks himself glove sid eof Dell and waits for the rebound, which het smacks into the open net to make it 3-1 Toronto.

The Leafs give the Sabres another chance to score, and give them a two on one which ends with a broken stick for Dylan Cozens and a save for Woll. The Sabres continue to put pressure on the Leafs defence, which is working hard to make this game a win for Woll.

The Sabres get results from their more potent offense tonight, and Tage Thompson cuts the lead to one.

3-2 Toronto. The Leafs try to come back before the period ends, but they’re unable to nd go into the third leading by one.

Play is rather balanced to start the third, with both teams getting some zone time. Morgan Rielly lets one Sabres get by him, but Auston Matthews is there to pick up the slack.

The Maple Leafs pen the Sabres in their own end, getting three or four shots on net before one gets deflected into the netting. When the puck gets down in ot the Leafs end, we see Woll is getting comfortable in net as he comes far out to play the puck. We go a long while without whistles in the first period, and before you know it, we’re halfway through the third. Not an exciting period of hockey.

Alex Kerfoot draws the first Sabres penalty of the game, you won’t believe this but it’s a hooking call. The Leafs power play gets a shot off almost right away, which the Sabres could learn from.

Something else they could learn from? Scoring. Morgan Rielly shoots from the blue line and John Tavares tips it in for the Leafs fourth goal of the game.

The Sabres think this is very rude and Jeff Skinner (?!) scores his second of the game off the post-goal face off.

4-3 Maple Leafs.

The Sabres don’t let up, and knock Woll’s stick out of his hand, leading to Woll having to play with Mitch Marners stick for a minute until the Sabres tie the game with a Rasmus Dahlin shot from up high.

Jeff Skinner got a taste for goals in this game and when play resumed, the Sabres once again forced their way into the Leafs zone, with Skinner leading the way. Woll stopped his hat trick attempt, thankfully.

The clock tickets down with the Leafs pushing for a fifth goal before regulation ends. Auston Matthews almost scores, Morgan Rielly almost scores, Mitch Marner, well you know, but Aaron Dell is doing his job. Sadly. In the final minute the Leafs continue to push for a game winner, and Morgan Rielly hits the crossbar with a shot through traffic, it bounces away from the net but the spin of the puck makes it go in once it hits the ice.

The game winner coming at the last second from Morgan Rielly, his first of the season.

While the Maple Leafs won the game 5-4, it wasn’t particularly great. Considering the Sabres led in shots, shot attempts, offense, and everything. But! Joseph Woll got a win in his Leafs debut, the Leafs won the game, and we got plenty of secondary scoring.

So some pluses, but not enough to call this a quality win.

The next Leafs game is Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators at home.

Notes from the game:

  • On the pre-game Craig MacTavish said he was going to draft Joseph Woll to the Edmonton Oilers, but Toronto had the pick right before theirs.
  • Woll was told a few days ago he would start, Keefe wanted to make sure Woll’s family had time to get to Buffalo.
  • It took more than half the game for one of “the big 4” to get a shot on net.
  • Ondřej Kaše has scored in three straight games.
  • John Tavares scored his 100th goal as a Maple Leaf.
  • This was the Leafs third game in four days in three different cities.