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(Tuesday, April 3rd)
Final Score: Buffalo 6, Toronto 5 (OT)
Buffalo, NY (Sports Network) - Derek Roy scored two goals, including the game- winner at 3:29 of overtime as the Buffalo Sabres claimed two huge points and kept their playoff hopes alive with a 6-5 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs at First Niagara Center.
Skating with a 4-on-3 power play, Sabres forward Thomas Vanek ripped a shot on net from the left circle that was kicked out by Toronto netminder Ben Scrivens, but he failed to control the rebound, and Roy fired it home from the slot.
"That was a hell of a way to win it," Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff said. "That game had everything. After the first period, our goal was to go out and get a goal in the first 10 minutes, get back in the hockey game."
Alexander Sulzer scored twice and added an assist while Jordan Leopold and Tyler Ennis also found the back of the net for the Sabres, who have won six of their last eight games. Ryan Miller posted 20 stops in the win.
With the victory, the Sabres pulled even with the idle Washington Capitals for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot with just two games remaining in the regular season. Buffalo, though, still sits in ninth place via a tiebreaker.
Tyler Bozak finished with two goals and an assist, Matt Frattin had a goal and an assist, while Clarke MacArthur and Jake Gardiner also scored for the Leafs, who have lost four of five. Scrivens was touched for all six tallies on 45 shots.
Toronto jumped out on top quickly with three goals in the first period.
Bozak opened the scoring 6:13 into the game when he slammed home a rebound off a Phil Kessel shot from in close, and he struck again at 14:49 when he parked himself in front and one-timed home a pass from Kessel.
Frattin capped the period with a wrist shot from the right circle with 3:19 to go in the frame that skipped past Miller for the 3-0 lead.
Buffalo remained unfazed despite being down three and began to cut into the lead in the second period.
Skating with the man advantage, Buffalo finally got on the board at 4:26, when Sulzer drifted down to the left circle and sent a perfect slap-pass right to the tape of Ennis, who chipped it home from the left of the net to make it 3-1.
Sulzer struck at 10:44, as he drifted onto a loose puck in the right circle and sent a wrist shot on goal that got through traffic and over the shoulder of Scrivens.
But Toronto regained a two-goal edge 1:28 into the third period after MacArthur got a pass to the left of the net from Joey Crabb and easily tapped it home to make it 4-2.
Roy answered for Buffalo on the power play 56 seconds later to make it 4-3 when he snapped one through traffic and past Scrivens, but again the Leafs regained a two-goal advantage at 10:39 of the third thanks to a spectacular individual effort by Gardiner.
He gained the offensive blue line on the left wing, brought the puck all the way around behind the net and back to the left circle before firing a wrister low to the far side past Miller.
Buffalo answered with the final two tallies of regulation. Sulzer got his second at 14:57 to make it 5-4 after he jammed in a rebound off a shot from Vanek, and Leopold capped the rally with 1:53 on the clock when he poked it in amid a mad scramble in front of the Toronto net involving eight skaters.
"It was gut-wrenching," Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle said. "It was one of those games that everything went our way early then kind of went against us late in the hockey game."
Buffalo improved to 30-6-4 when scoring three or more goals this season...Vanek finished with two assists and has nine points in his last eight games...Sabres defenseman Andrej Sekera played in his 300th career NHL game...It was the first time the Sabres have fallen behind by three goals an rallied to win since January 1, 2010 against the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise...Leafs defenseman Carl Gunnarson left the game just 12 seconds in with an upper-body injury...Buffalo improved to 5-4 in overtime, while Toronto fell to 4-5...The Sabres finished 3-for-5 on the power play, while the Leafs went 0-for-1.
04/04 00:04:37 ET
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