NHL Game Summary - Toronto at Buffalo
(Friday, March 27th)
Final Score: Buffalo 5, Toronto 3
Buffalo, NY (Sports Network) - Tim Connolly scored twice and the Buffalo Sabres held off a late surge from Toronto to emerge with a 5-3 win at HSBC Arena.
Jochen Hecht and Paul Gaustad both registered a goal and an assist for Buffalo, which snapped a four-game losing streak on Wednesday, rallying from a two-goal third-period deficit to defeat Florida 5-3. Back in the crease after a 13-game absence due to a sprained left ankle, Ryan Miller made 33 saves to notch his 30th win of the season.
The Sabres remained in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, five points behind Montreal for the eighth and final playoff spot but moved five points ahead of 11th-seeded Toronto.
With goaltender Martin Gerber serving the first of a three-game suspension for shoving a referee, Curtis Joseph got the start for the Maple Leafs and was yanked early in the second period after giving up four goals on nine shots. Justin Pogge stopped 14 shots the rest of the way.
Boyd Devereaux, Nikolai Kulemin and Matt Stajan each had a goal for Toronto, which had a two-game win streak snapped.
Devereaux's short-handed tally put Toronto on the board with 3:24 remaining in the second period and Stajan cut Buffalo's seemingly comfortable four-goal advantage in half at 7:47 of the third period. Connolly was then whistled for interference at 8:08 and Kulemin backhanded the puck over a fallen Miller 22 seconds later to close the gap to 4-3.
Gaustad restored a two-goal edge with 9:04 remaining, effectively wrapping up the game in the Sabres' favor.
Pogge turned away Hecht but didn't know where the puck was and inadvertently kicked it into the low slot. Maple Leafs defenseman Ian White hastily tried to clear the disc and had it ricochet off Gaustad and past the rookie netminder.
It didn't take the Sabres long to find the back of the net. Hecht had possession of the puck behind the enemy cage, walked around the right post and fired it past Joseph just 37 seconds into the contest.
Buffalo grabbed a 2-0 lead at 9:39 of the first period. The right-handed shooting Connolly skated down his off-wing on an odd-man rush with Clarke MacArthur. As he reached the top of the circle, Connolly ripped a shot that caught iron and caromed off Joseph's back before sliding across the goal line.
Daniel Paille beat Joseph high on the short side at the 3:09 mark of the middle stanza, then Connolly lit the lamp again 21 seconds later for a 4-0 Sabres lead.
Jason Pominville and Henrik Tallinder both recorded two assists for Buffalo...Sabres defenseman and team captain Craig Rivet skated in his 800th career game...Buffalo begins a three-game road trip Saturday in Montreal...Toronto hosts Boston on Saturday...The Sabres hold a 4-1-0 edge in the season series. These two clubs will square off for the final time on April 8 at Air Canada Centre.
03/27 22:48:16 ET