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NHL Game Summary - Buffalo at Toronto

(Tuesday, April 1st)

Final Score: Buffalo 4, Toronto 3 (SO)

Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Maxim Afinogenov scored the game-winning goal in the sixth round of the shootout, as the Buffalo Sabres kept their faint playoff hopes alive with a thrilling 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre.

Derek Roy, Steve Bernier and Thomas Vanek scored in regulation for the Sabres, who entered the game needing two points to stay alive and got the win after they trailed late in the third period. Vanek's power-play goal with 5:21 to go in regulation sent the game into overtime.

Ryan Miller turned aside 19 shots for Buffalo, which won the Presidents' Trophy last season as the best team in the regular season but one year later is hanging on by a thread. The Sabres have two games remaining on their schedule -- at Montreal and at Boston -- and with 88 points trail both Philadelphia and the Bruins by three for the eighth and final playoff spot. Washington, which also has two games left, sits one point ahead of Buffalo with 90.

Darcy Tucker, Tomas Kaberle and Alexander Steen scored for Toronto, which has dropped three of its last four after a three-game win streak. Andrew Raycroft allowed three goals on 41 shots in the setback. Toronto had already been eliminated from postseason contention.

Following a scoreless overtime during which Kaberle hit the post during a Toronto power play, the contest went to the shootout. Both shooters scored in the first round but neither side lit the lamp through the next four rounds. Finally, in the sixth shootout frame, Miller stoned Johnny Pohl before Afinogenov's double-deke move kept the Sabres' playoff hopes alive.

Toronto scored within the opening minute and the closing minute of the first period for a two-goal lead after 20 minutes of play.

After Tucker's goal 31 seconds after the opening faceoff -- assisted by Pavel Kubina and Mark Bell -- gave the Maple Leafs an early lead, the remainder of the period was mostly defensive until Kaberle made it 2-0 at 19:03.

The Leafs were skating on the power play due to a slashing call on Nolan Pratt. Jason Blake held control along the right side above the circle and passed across the low slot, where Kaberle gained control. Kaberle then faked a shot from the bottom of the left circle, skated around the back of the net and tucked home a stuffer at the right post.

At the 4:22 mark of the second period, the visitors cut their deficit in half on a goal by Roy. Afinogenov's wrist shot from the slot was saved by Raycroft, but the rebound caromed loose and sat to the left of the net. While falling down, Roy, stationed near the left post, swept his stick along the ice and slid the disc over the goal line for his 32nd goal.

Midway through the third, a controversial goal by Buffalo knotted the score at 2-2. Nathan Paetsch's wrister from the centerpoint hit traffic in front, bounced off Raycroft and trickled over the goal line simultaneously as the net came off its moorings when two Buffalo forwards collided with the Toronto goaltender. After a review by the video judge, the goal was allowed.

Less than three minutes later, Steen's 15th goal at 12:03 -- a one-timer from the low slot after a centering pass from the right side by Alexei Ponikarovsky -- gave the Leafs a 3-2 lead.

The Sabres, though, were resilient and kept their season alive via Vanek's power-play tally at the 14:39 mark of the third. Andrej Sekera's one-timer from the right point hit Vanek's skate atop the crease and crossed the goal line.

Game Notes

Buffalo captured the season series, 5-3, and has won seven of its last nine games in Toronto...It was Vanek's 33rd goal of 2007-08... The Sabres finished 1-for-3 on the power play, while the Leafs cashed in on their lone chance with the extra skater...Toronto will close its season with games against Ottawa (home on Thursday) and at Montreal on Saturday...Attendance was 19,288.

04/01 22:50:09 ET

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