THE AFTERMATH: SABRES 6, MAPLE LEAFS 2
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Drew Stafford scored twice and added an assist, Thomas Vanek had a goal and two assists, and Ryan Miller finished with 23 saves to lift the Buffalo Sabres to a 6-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
Jason Pominville, Paul Gaustad and Tim Connolly also scored for the Sabres, who bounced back from a one-goal loss in Pittsburgh on Friday to improve to 10-4-1 in their past 15 games.
Miller made his 28th consecutive start for Buffalo, which won its seventh straight at home against Toronto.
Nikolai Kulemin and Francois Beauchemin scored, and rookie James Reimer allowed five goals on 30 shots before being yanked after two periods for the Maple Leafs, who had their two-game winning streak snapped.
Reimer was coming off his first career NHL shutout on Thursday against Carolina. He was relieved by Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who gave up a goal on 13 shots over the final 20 minutes. ...more.
The first of Buffalo’s six goals was the result of great efforts by Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville in the offensive zone. Vanek intercepted Toronto’s clearing attempt and wheeled toward the Leafs’ net. In doing so, he drew three defenders, which left Pominville all alone to drive the net. Vanek maneuvered through the cluster of Leafs and fed a great backhand pass across the goal-mouth to a diving Pominville, who popped it up and over goaltender James Reimer and gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead just 3:31 into the game. The goal gave Pominville nine points (4-5-9) in his last eight games. Vanek finished with a goal and two assists, giving Buffalo’s top scorer 19-25-44 on the season.
- The Sabres have now won seven straight home games against the Maple Leafs and moved to 29-9-1 overall against Toronto since 2005-06.
- Ryan Miller made his 28th consecutive start in goal, a streak that began Nov. 26 vs. Toronto, and improved to 16-9-2 over that span by making 23 saves on 25 shots. Tonight’s win was Buffalo’s 10th in the last 15 games (10-4-1).
- Buffalo has reached the six-goal mark four times this season, with three of them coming in home games.
- Buffalo broke a brief power play slump when Stafford knocked home a perfect cross-ice pass from Jordan Leopold during the Sabres’ first power play opportunity of the game. Buffalo had scored just once (1-for-7) with the man advantage in its previous four games, a stretch that followed a torrid 10-for-31 streak over a nine-game period. Tonight, Buffalo was 2-for-4 on the power play.
- Paul Gaustad netted his seventh goal of the season one night after scoring 17 seconds into the Pittsburgh game. It marked the first time this season Gaustad scored in back-to-back games and gives him three goals in the last four outings.
- James Reimer started in goal for the Maple Leafs, the 10th game of his NHL career, but was relieved by Jean-Sebastien Giguere to begin the third period after allowing five goals on 30 shots through 40 minutes.
- Tim Connolly got on the board with his first goal since Dec. 17.
- Cody McCormick’s fight with Mike Komisarek put McCormick over the century mark for penalty minutes on the season with a team-leading 103 PIM.
- Defensemen Chris Butler and Craig Rivet were scratched for Buffalo while Patrick Kaleta continued to be sidelined by a hand injury. Kaleta has missed 11 of the last 14 games with the ailment.
- Defenseman Brett Lebda was scratched for Toronto.
The Sabres begin a two-game road trip to the Sunshine State with a visit to the Southeast Division-leading Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. It will be the third of four meetings between the teams, and the Lightning owns a 2-0-0 record against the Sabres thus far. The last match-up took place Dec. 18 in Tampa Bay, where the Bolts downed Buffalo 3-1. Steven Stamkos leads the NHL with 39 goals on the season and ranks second with 68 points while linemate Martin St. Louis is second in the NHL in assists (42) and fifth in points (62). Tampa Bay has also been boosted by the recent addition of veteran goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who has gone 8-4-0 with four shutouts in 12 games since joining the team at the start of January. The Lightning, who have won seven of the last 10 games, are 17-5-2 on home ice this season, giving them the fifth-best home record in the NHL entering play on Saturday.