Sabres show the intensity in their 5-2 win over Toronto

Buffalo gets contributions from several players in the win

Pat Malacaro
February 16, 2020 - 10:54 pm
Sabres-Maple Leafs

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Sabres matched the atmosphere and excitement inside KeyBank Center on Sunday night with a 5-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Although much of the crowd was cheering for the visitors, Buffalo was able to send the home crowd home happy.

I thought the Maple Leafs had the better of the play in the first few minutes of the game, but once Buffalo found their legs, they started to press the pace in their favor. The blue and gold finished the first period with a 16-6 shots on goal advantage, and it felt like the ice was tilted in their favor.

Victor Olofsson had maybe the best chance of the frame when he was stopped right at the top of the crease by Frederik Andersen. The play was setup by a nice pass by Jack Eichel from the corner. Also, the line of Jeff Skinner-Evan Rodrigues-Conor Sheary was active in trying to be a second line that took the game to Toronto.

Carter Hutton did not have to make many saves in the first period, but he was up to the task and when needed made big saves for Buffalo. Especially with under a minute to go in the first to keep the score 0-0.

Colin Miller again proved to be an offensive threat for the Sabres along the blue line. The defenseman had a hand directly in both of the Sabres second period goals. His shot from the point on the first tally missed the net, but Johan Larsson was there and able to slide the puck into an open net with Andersen out of position.

On the second Buffalo goal, Miller simply put the puck to the front of the net where there was traffic, and Sheary was able to get a piece on the way to up the lead to 2-0. Less than two minutes later, Toronto would answer with Egor Korshkov’s first goal of the season that beat Hutton to the near post and made the score 2-1 in favor of the Sabres.

Toronto showed up with a renewed effort to start the third period. They enjoyed a 5-1 shots on goal advantage over the first four-and-a-half minutes of the frame. They had only six shots in each of the first two periods and were outshot by a 28-12 margin through 40 minutes.

One of those five shots was Jake Muzzin’s shot from the point that was tipped home by Zach Hyman to even the score at 2-2 just over two minutes into the period. However, the third power play of the night for the blue and gold helped them re-gain the lead.

Eichel and Olofsson passed the puck back and forth in the offensive zone, and the captain wired home a wrist shot to score on the power play. It was his 33rd goal of the season in the process. Less than a minute later, Kyle Okposo put a shot into the top corner of the net to extend Buffalo’s lead to 4-2, and they would not be done yet.

Jimmy Vesey collected his ninth of the season to cap off a three-goal stretch for the blue and gold over 1:31 to make it 5-2 in favor of Buffalo. After being outshot early in the period, the three goal outburst was helped by a 7-0 edge in shots.

I thought the team’s ability to block the shot lanes got better as the game went on, especially on their lone penalty kill opportunity of the night. Toronto got their chances, but the ability of players like Jake McCabe and Rasmus Ristolainen to block shots before they got to Hutton showed the effort and intensity that sometimes you do not always see on the ice.

Buffalo is right back at it Tuesday night against the Ottawa Senators. After nine of 10 games at home, the Sabres will embark on a stretch of six of their next seven games on the road, starting in Ottawa. The two teams will drop the puck at 7:30 p.m. on the flagship home of the Sabres Radio Network – WGR Sports Radio 550.

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