Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner scored four goals between them, William Nylander extended his point streak to 11 games, but the Leafs lost 6-4 to the Buffalo Sabres. The bottom six of the Leafs were a -3 on the night, including Ryan Reaves who is 0-8 on goals already this season. John Klingberg was also directly negligent on his three goals against. Joseph Woll stopped 35 of his 40 shots against in the loss, and was saved once by Max Domi in the third period. He kept the Leafs in the game, but the Leafs skaters couldn't get out of their own way.
First impression of the game was seeing the Hockey Fights Cancer board ads covered up by the digital ads. You can see the pink boards on some shots but they get papered over on the rest of the broadcast. Was there no thought to changing those ads, too? None of the fans watching the game on TV will notice the efforts for this initiative. There's nothing special about this night. I think that's wrong and heartless. But what corporate thing isn't?
Leafs got the first power play and the wingers (Nylander and Matthews) fed Tavares in the middle a couple good chances, but he couldn't get his stick clear. I'll also say Owen Power enveloped Marner in the corner during their first battle for the puck. He's immense.
10 minutes into the period we saw Holmberg switch with Kämpf, so the bottom six is now Gregor-Kämpf-Reaves, Knies-Holmberg-Domi. This created an offensive line and a spare parts line. I don't know what they expect Kämpf to do with what he's given. At least they have a line that's solely focused offensively. Creating a defensive bottom six line would go a long way.
Klingberg with a turnover at the offensive blueline, ending a shift for the Tavares line.
Marner sneaks between the defenders and scores glove high on the breakaway!! Great pass from Järnkrok to find him up the ice.
Sorry to William Lagesson, but it's tough when Jeff Skinner out-muscles you for a rebound. Granted it was on a PK after the Leafs took a too many men penalty – their first of about a dozen on the year, which is a tiny percentage of total penalties on the year, just as Ryan Reaves.
Lagesson did get one back later when he stepped up hard on Dahlin. That was cool, and useful to win the puck back behind him.
The Sabres did score on that power play. John-Jason Peterka scored from the top of the circle from Power and Peyton Krebs.
Marner drew a hooking call from Thompson in the last minute of the period after the Leafs got hemmed in a bit. Levi made a save on a tic-tac-toe play, but most of the power play got transferred to the second period.
Kämpf played a pos-PK shift with Domi and Knies, muddying whether the switch of bottom six centres was permanent.
Marner reached #8 on the all-time scoring list for the Leafs.
Leafs led in shots 12-10 but it was an even game all-around. Arvind in our chat called the game very "sludgy," describing the messiness of the plays in the early goings.
Kämpf took a hooking penalty a couple minutes into the period, leaving the Leafs with only two good penalty killing forwards. Marner was with Matthews to start the PK.
Oh no. Now Marner took another penalty, that's the whole first unit gone. Järnkrok took the faceoff (lost) on the 5v3 to start the minute and a half down two men. In fact, Järnkrok didn't come off and took the whole 5v3 while the defenders switched twice. Wow, shouldn't this be a bigger story?
Kämpf and Gregor took the last couple seconds before Marner got to step on the ice. A successful kill in some of the worst circumstances.
Knies, who has also killed some penalties, played the next shift with Matthews and Tavares once the Leafs got out of their hole. On that shift, Matthews drew a slashing penalty on Olofsson.
Klingberg can’t make a pass under pressure. What is he good for?
Shorthanded goal. Tage Thompson sneaking one under Woll. Marner got stood up by Thompson at the defensive blue line, totally neutralizing him.
A reverse angle.
Marner was sitting on the bench next to Reaves on the following shifts. That'll make him taller!!!
All right, let's go, Nylander to Matthews on the power play and it's a tie game again!! Love seeing Nylander freeze everyone when he has the puck on his stick, only to find Matthews wide open in the middle of the ice. That's what a duel threat gets you!!!
Woooooof. The fourth line and third pair let's Skinner get loose on the ensuing shift and he scores. It was the first career NHL point for prospect Ryan Johnson.
That last minute.
I can't believe I shouted "Who's that!?" at a Noah Gregor rush, but they're becoming more commonplace and he's pretty good at shooting in stride! One of his shots will go in.
Meanwhile Bert should do some more shooting.
Eighty-two! Eighty-two! Eighty-two!
Pretty good top-four. The stars continue to perform while the rest of their roster let them down. 20 guys, Tre?
Matthews with his second!
Jordan Greenway scores for the Sabres as the game flips back and forth. Klingberg once again has no idea how to defend, just stands there lost on the puck and the man he has to check.
Matthews gets the hat trick with his 11th of the season from Giordano!
Klingberg and Giordano gave up a breakaway between them at the offensive blue line, but Woll made a good save on the scoring chance to keep the Leafs in the game and give them a chance to win it.
Dahlin from a million miles away, off Alex Tuch, and win. A sixth goal against the fourth line without a goal for. Tuch deflected it in off his shoulder with about seven minutes left in the game.
Tuch beats Nylander and Klingberg on a battle at the blueline and scores to seal the game.