The Toronto Maple Leafs looked like they were playing the Buffalo Bills working the 2-minute drill in the second period, burning them with 3-goals during that span locking down a 5-3 victory at Scotiabank Arena Monday.
The locals continue to play with fire in their own backyard allowing winnable games to become life and death, needing a Kasperi Kapanen goal at 17:42 to secure the win. Kapanen used his blazing speed to get free while killing a rare penalty to Auston Matthews in the dying minutes that had set up the nail biter of a finish.
After Jack Eichel opened the scoring for Buffalo, the Leafs surge in the middle frame came on markers from Tavares, Matthews and Gauthier and a few minutes later one from Tyler Ennis for good measure. But not so fast!
Sam Reinhart cut the lead in half on a 5-3 power play late in the middle frame and Eichel with his second of the game 9-seconds into the third to set up the dramatic finish.
Frederik Andersen, who was brilliant once again in the net, makes it very clear game in and out he will have to be stellar if this club expects to achieve anything come springtime. With three back-to-backs remaining on the schedule, including the emotional return of John Tavares to Long Island Thursday, the shaky Garret Sparks will be called upon to defend the goal. Leafs nation will be holding it’s breath.
Buffalo doesn’t measure up to the talented Maple Leafs but when it comes to work ethic, they give them all they can handle and if anything has been the Achilles of the blue and white, that’s it in a nutshell.
When they show up on time, work hard and defend their own end responsibly with the skill level they have in abundance, they’re dynamic.
The Sabres competed and hung around; Jack Eichel continues to torch the team north of the wings-city with his 9th and 10th goals in 11 games but in the end couldn’t solve the heroics of Andersen.
Toronto faces the always-dangerous Connor McDavid lead Edmonton Oilers in town Wednesday, followed by a trip to Long Island for a date with the Metropolitan Division leading NY Islanders Thursday, wrapping up the week Saturday with these very same pesky Sabres.
It doesn’t get any easier with three in Western Canada next week.