It’s HNIC, and the Sabres came to Toronto to escape the snow. Let’s get right to it:

First Period

Already tired of hearing about how tall Tage Thompson is, but I think he’s a really interesting player, and he keps the puck away from the Leafs very easily.

Three Sabres players below their own goal line to keep the Leafs from doing anything with the puck. A thing I’m watching for is very tight defensive bunching from the opponents like the Devils used.

The Matthews line gets a rush chance, and ... Michael Bunting ends up taking the shot with not viable rebound resulting.

Auston Matthews steals the puck in classic style and the guy taking it in is Bunting, who can’t score on Ukka-Pekka Luukkonen (UPL from now on).

Leafs get a big flurry of shots on UPL after a very tepid start.

Leafs get the first power play on a bad choice by the Sabres to take an offensive-zone penalty.

I was cueing up a complaint about Matthews playing second defender on the power play, and boom, JT scores with his shinpads on a Marner shot (it all happened because Matthews moves up):

1-0 Leafs

Everyone on the Leafs are finding it easy to get the puck away from the Sabres who don’t play with quick wits a lot of the time.


The Leafs fairly consistently maligned third line has a great shift, scores a goal, and pisses off the “too many men” purists as well.

2-0 Leafs

JT is tired — he’s old, you know — so he trips Owen Power and sits for 2 min.

Oh man! Mitch Marner on an epic shorty break. He’s just frickin’ amazing at this, and he drops it back to fellow rush artist Mark Giordano who shoots it.

The result is a delay of game penalty to Alex Tuch, and that was a goal, I think because I have this special blue filter on my monitor, you see, and... Oh wow, they overturned the call on the ice for that one, and it’s a goal!!!

3-0 Leafs

That was too pretty not to count.


  • The fix is in conspiracy theories will be hot enough to melt all the snow in Buffalo.
  • The Leafs had 46% Corsi and 63% xG, and that quality imbalance is very unusual. On the pace of the game, it looked even, but it really wasn’t: /
  • Auston Matthews with an outstanding period./

Second Period

Rasmus Sandin takes an “unable to defend the guy” penalty.

Marner with the first shot of the Sabres power play, of course, and the Sabres never get a shot on goal.

Sheldon Keefe is rotating his defence pairings a little. Giordano is with Liljegren.

Matthews takes a penalty for a collision with Casey Mittlestadt that could be seen as accidental with that blue filter on.

Matt Murray has to work harder on this one, and as the penalty is almost done the most likely thing happens: the Sabres score the next goal.

3-1 Leafs

The revenge of Alex Tuch, I guess.

William Nylander takes a high-sticking penalty to make this game more interesting for Buffalo fans.

Murray working again, and he’s been very good this game.

Alex Kerfoot on a very important breakaway as Murray is without his stick, and he gets an age to retrieve it. It’s not visible on the broadcast, but I think a Sabre helped that stick travel farther away from Murray.

And now for the revenge of Nylander:

4-1 Leafs

There’s some Dahlin v Matthews at the end of the period, so we’ll find out if an intermission cools them off or not.


  • Jordie Benn is very good on the PK, but in a traditional way. The Leafs don’t play a traditional PK, but they could be chocolate and peanut butter with a little work on it. He tries to clear the puck when he should be moving it to a forward ready to break. He clears it too hard and the forwards end up deeper offensively chasing it than they should.
  • The Sabres are not quitting, that’s for sure, and this is going to be an exhausting lead to hold for the Leafs./

Third Period

Matthews goes for Jeff Skinner, so that’s now something that could be something, and the Sabres almost get an own goal.

The Leafs are doing a very uncharacteristically excellent job of defending when they have to, and leaving off the offensive pressure to hold the lead.

Nylander again with a beauty:

5-1 Leafs

Liljegren takes a late penalty and Buffalo gets a chance to get one more goal before this is over.

I refuse utterly to engage with this silly “book on Murray is high glove” nonsense after 10 goals against.

And the Sabres do get another goal, just not on the power play.

5-2 Leafs

(better re-write that book)

The Leafs get a couple of grade-A chances in the final five minutes.

Rasmus Sandin draws a penalty to end the game on the power play. Awwww, they tried to get Willy the hat trick, but it wasn’t to be.


  • Murray looked very good.
  • In terms of controlling play, the Leafs played the Sabres to a draw at five-on-five, and won the game with the power play.
  • Bit of a redemption game for the depth players too, who were all good./