Toronto 3 – Buffalo 1
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Air Canada Centre
TORONTO -- James van Riemsdyk scored twice to ruin Ron Rolston’s debut as interim head coach of the Buffalo Sabres, leading the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 3-1 win at Air Canada Centre on Thursday. The Maple Leafs (11-7-0) scored three unanswered goals, including two on the power play, to post their sixth win in the last eight games. For the Sabres (6-11-1), it was their third loss in a row, and fifth in the last six games. Toronto now leads the four-game season series between the two clubs 2-1. Ryan Miller made 32 saves in the loss, as the Sabres were outshot for the 13th time in 18 games this season.
Goaltending ruled the early part of the period, with both Miller and Ben Scrivens making highlight reel saves to keep the game scoreless. Miller flashed the leather on Leo Komarov in close just 90 seconds in, while Scrivens stood tall against Sabres’ snipers Thomas Vanek and Cody Hodgson.
Tyler Ennis finally solved Scrivens at the 13:20 mark with his sixth of the season, firing a quick snapshot from the slot that he buried over the goaltender’s right shoulder. The goal sent the Sabres to the room with just their fourth first-period lead of the season (2-1-0), and first since Feb. 3 against Florida – a game they eventually lost 4-3.
It didn’t take long for the Maple Leafs to even the score, and it came via the power play. Dion Phaneuf set up along the right boards, and one-timed Phil Kessel’s cross-ice pass behind for his 100th career goal just 1:14 into the period.
Steve Ott appeared to give the Sabres a 2-1 lead at 7:08 when he batted the puck into the open net, but the goal was waved off when Kevin Porter received a questionable goaltender interference call during a collision with Scrivens that took place well outside the crease.
An ill-timed pinch at the Toronto blueline by Christian Ehrhoff late in the period led to a Maple Leafs’ three-on-one, and Phil Kessel capped it off by sliding a pass through Alexander Sulzer to van Riemsdyk for the easy tap in at the edge of the crease at 18:04.
After holding a 12-10 edge in shots after the first, Buffalo was outshot 15-7 in the second period.
With Kevin Porter (tripping) and Jochen Hecht (delay of game) both in the box, Toronto was handed a five-on-three with just over seven minutes left to play in the period. The Maple Leafs called a timeout midway through the power play to regroup, and capitalized just 16 seconds later. Toronto worked the puck around the perimeter of the Sabres’ zone, with Cody Franson eventually finding van Riemsdyk wide open to the left of Miller for his second of the game – and 11th of the season – at 14:28 to make it 3-1.
BEHIND THE NUMBERS
The Sabres have an all-time record of 9-6-1 in the first game with a new head coach… Steve Ott was a perfect 9-0 on faceoffs tonight… Ott also recorded nine hits; he leads the NHL with 79… Christian Ehrhoff skated a season-high 28:35 tonight; he has skated 20+ minutes in each of his 17 games played… Buffalo’s power play is now 1-for-33 on the road after going scoreless in three attempts tonight; the lone PPG this season was scored by Thomas Vanek in Boston on Jan.31… Ryan Miller is 28-15-1 all-time against Toronto; Miller has more wins (28) and shutouts (4) against the Maple Leafs than any other team… The Sabres are now 12-8-3 all-time on Feb. 21… 187th game all-time between Buffalo and Toronto; Buffalo leads the series with a 103-61-23 record; 42-36-15 on the road.
Cody McCormick cleared waivers today, and was reassigned to Rochester… McCormick was replaced on the roster by Kevin Porter who was recalled from Rochester. The Detroit, Mich., native has played in 48 games this season with the Amerks, amassing 44 points (15+29) and 38 penalty minutes… Jordan Leopold did not play with what is being called an upper body injury… Rookie Mikhail Grigorenko was a healthy scratch for the third straight game, and fourth time this season… Andrej Sekera missed his third game with a lower-body injury… Ville Leino (hip, 18 games) is the only Sabre currently on IR.
BUFFALO’S REAL-TIME STATS LEADERS
Time on Ice: Christian Ehrhoff, 28:35
Shots: Tyler Ennis, 6
Blocked Shots: Tyler Myers, 4
Hits: Steve Ott, 9
Faceoff Wins: Cody Hodgson, 12
Total Faceoffs: Hodgson, 20 (12-8)
BUFFALO’S RECORD WHEN…
Scoring first: 5-4-0
Leading after the first period: 2-2-0
Trailing after the second period: 2-7-1
Outshot by opponent: 4-9-0
Overall: 8/65, 12.3%
Road: 1/33, 3%
Overall: 58/73, 79.4%
Road: 37/44, 84.1%
* Saturday vs. NY Islanders, 7 p.m.
* Tuesday @ Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
* Thursday @ Florida, 7:30 p.m.