It’s always with reluctance to make the trip along the QEW for Leafs fans to heartbreak City that’s hosted many gut-wrenching Toronto losses for those brave enough to make the trek.
I’m talking about Buffalo of course and you’d never know the history on the road playing the Sabres witnessing the thousands of Maple Leafs Fans that crossed the border last night. It was an impressive sight and while Minnesota was a sight to behold with Leafs fans taking over the lower bowl during the pre game warm-up, it paled in comparison to last night’s turnout at the Keybank Center.
The Sabres fed off the electric energy in the building and from the drop of the puck pushed the game up the ice hemming the Leafs in their own zone for most of the first period. Buffalo coming off a 2-1 loss the previous night against Nashville were also trying to halt a three game slide. They played determined, up-tempo and aggressive, forcing Toronto to turn the puck over time after time but came away with nothing to show for the effort after 20-minutes of play despite doubling up the visiting Leafs 14-7, shots on goal.
Like teams around the league are frustratingly experiencing after 27-games; even if you catch the talented Toronto squad having an off night, you have to deal with goaltender Frederik Andersen whose been brilliant all season and once again stoned the home side. Trailing 2-1 entering the third Buffalo didn’t wilt but kept up the dogged effort and were rewarded with a pair to take a short lived lead with moments to play. The depth of Toronto’s forwards pushes the game to another level and teams have a tendency to collapse under the barrage of wizardry displayed by the likes of Mitch Marner , Auston Matthews, John Travares and Kasperi Kapanen; you can’t cover them all. Buffalo matched them stride for stride.
Less than two minutes after Jack Eichel had his second of the night and 7th of the season to give Buffalo the lead, Patrick Marleau evened the match sending the game into Overtime.
Auston Matthews’s flair for the dramatics continued with a bullet shot to clinch the victory for the Leafs with seconds to spare, sending the throng of Leafs Nation home happy and a dispirited Sabres crowd shaking their heads.