Maple Leafs beat Sabres 4-3 for 9th SO victory
- Associated Press
- January 15, 2014 - 10:20 PM
TORONTO — Tyler Bozak scored the clinching goal in the third round of the shootout and the Toronto Maple Leafs won their third straight game with a 4-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.
James van Riemsdyk, Joffrey Lupul and Bozak scored in the shootout for Toronto.
Matt Moulson scored in the first round for Buffalo, but James Reimer stopped Cody Hodgson after Lupul tallied in the second, setting up Bozak's winner against Ryan Miller.
Phil Kessel, Nikolai Kulemin and Morgan Rielly scored in regulation for the Leafs, while Matt Ellis, Moulson and Hodgson had goals for the Sabres.
The Leafs and Sabres combined to score four goals in just over eight minutes during the second period.
Toronto earned its league-leading ninth shootout victory in its 13th opportunity and Reimer made 27 saves in regulation and overtime to pick up his first win since Dec. 19.
Miller stopped 36 shots. The U.S. Olympic goaltender entered the night with a 2.45 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in 48 career games against the Leafs.
Kessel had the game's best scoring chance in the early going, clanking a shot off the cross bar behind Miller at the 6:34 mark of the first.
His next shot hit the net. Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff turned the puck over off the boards and right to a waiting Kessel, who found the five-hole on Miller at the 9:21 mark to give the Leafs a 1-0 lead.
Toronto's lead lasted through intermission and until 3:21 into the second when Buffalo's Ellis beat Reimer short-side by banking it off the Leafs goaltender's body and in, starting the run of four goals in 8:01.
It could've been five goals if not for Reimer's penalty-shot save on Zemgus Girgensons at 5:48 of the second. Jake Gardiner tried to impede with Girgensons on his way to the net, but when the Sabres rookie got his chance one-on-one with Reimer, he waited too long and his back-handed attempt hit the goalie's left pad.
Moulson got the puck past Reimer less than a minute later. A turnover from Cody Franson sprung Moulson, whose shot rang off the post and across the goal-line into the corner of the net at 6:34 to make it 2-1 Sabres.
Kulemin tied it at 7:23 after taking a pass from Peter Holland and beating Miller.
Rielly showed instincts beyond his 19 years and 40 games of pro experience in scoring the Leafs' third goal at the 11:22 mark. The rookie defenseman moved toward the net while Nazem Kadri controlled the puck behind the net and was in perfect position to fire a shot high-glove side on Miller.
A late-second-period hooking penalty on Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf paved the way for Hodgson's tying goal 43 seconds into the third.
NOTES: Enforcer Colton Orr returned to Toronto's lineup after missing Tuesday's game in Boston with the flu, which has affected several players. Frazer McLaren was scratched to make room for Orr. ... Sabres forward Matt D'Agostini left the game early in the first period with an upper-body injury and did not return. D'Agostini skated just three shifts for 2:19.
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