Sabres rally for 4-3 victory over Leafs
TORONTO (AP) — Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel helped the Buffalo Sabres slip past the lowly Leafs on Monday night.
Reinhart scored in the shootout and the Sabres beat Toronto 4-3.
Eichel and Evander Kane scored less than four minutes apart in the third period to bring the Sabres back from a 3-1 deficit.
“It says a lot about our team that we stuck with it for 60 minutes,” Eichel said.
“You’re down two goals going into the third period. You get one back in the second, you’re able to break the goalie and then they’re able to get one and regain that two-goal lead.
“It’s really big for us to be resilient in that third and play a simple game, be able to get two goals and force overtime and a shootout and see what happens. It’s nice to win a shootout.”
It was the 22nd loss in the past 27 games for the league-worst Leafs and fifth straight one-goal defeat.
“The last five games we’ve got a chance to win in every game and then when you keep losing it’s (tough),” Leo Komarov said.
For Buffalo, the victory snapped a string of six straight shootout losses.
“Sam (Reinhart) makes a nice play after he gets the puck, but that’s fortunate for us and allows us to get back and strike with two goals in the third period,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said.
“We had chances there with the power play in the overtime to win it. Hit the post, Jack does, but fortunately we get in the positive side of a shootout.”
Rookie Zach Hyman scored his first career NHL goal for Toronto, and Komarov and Brad Boyes also scored.
Mark Pysyk had the other Buffalo goal, and Chad Johnson stopped 30 of 33 shots.
Garret Sparks made 24 saves for the Leafs, who remain last in the NHL with 53 points.
Trailing 3-1 entering the third period, Buffalo fought back to tie it with two third-period goals. Eichel found just enough space in the slot to beat Sparks and Kane, who benefited from a Morgan Rielly giveaway to the right of the Toronto net, scored minutes later.
Komarov opened the scoring, connecting with Nikita Soshnikov 25 seconds into the first period. The two broke in on an odd-man rush against Johnson with Soshnikov drawing in Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen before passing to Komarov, who tallied his 19th goal this season.
The score snapped a seven-game goal drought for Komarov and was just his fourth goal in the past 26 games.
Soshnikov, who earned his first career NHL assist on the 1-0 goal, was forced to leave the game shortly after. He tumbled into the boards after a collision with Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe, remaining down on the ice for a few brief moments before being helped to the Toronto dressing room.
He returned to play two more shifts in the period and nearly 14 minutes in the game.
Returning from a two-game absence (upper-body injury), Boyes put the Leafs ahead 2-0 at 11:05 of the opening period when his passing attempt ricocheted off McCabe’s skate in front.
A member of the Sabres for parts of two seasons, Boyes has eight points in his past 11 games and eight goals this season.
Pysyk brought Buffalo within one in the second period on a goal that had to be confirmed by video review. Sparks stopped the first Sabres attempt and then appeared to halt Pysyk’s rebound with his goal stick only to have the puck cross the line, if barely.
It was the first goal of the season for Pysyk and snapped a 40-game drought.
Hyman put the Leafs back up by two just over three minutes later, joining Soshnikov and William Nylander as rookies to score their first goal in the past week. The 23-year-old pushed a second effort attempt past Johnson with 19 seconds remaining in the middle period.
The Leafs have been competitive in dropping six straight. Their past five losses have been one-goal decisions.
“This was a game we were in total control of,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought we had the puck more. I thought we did more good things. And we still found a way not to get the points we wanted. That part’s disappointing. To give up the lead there, there was no reason to give up the lead.”
NOTES: Monday marked only the second meeting between the Sabres and Leafs this season. The two teams, which hadn’t played since a late-October Sabres shootout win before Monday, meet two more times this month. ... The action between the clubs got especially chippy in overtime with the Sabres combo of Zach Bogosian and Kane jousting with the Leafs pair of Nazem Kadri and Komarov. Kadri drew the ire of the Sabres for a near knee-to-knee collision with Eichel a few minutes earlier. ... Milan Michalek made his Leafs debut, totaling one shot in nearly 13 minutes.