NHL Game Summary - Toronto at Buffalo
(Friday, December 16th)
Final Score: Buffalo 5, Toronto 4
Buffalo, NY (Sports Network) - Thomas Vanek had two goals and an assist as the Buffalo Sabres held on for a 5-4 decision over the Toronto Maple Leafs at First Niagara Center.
Drew Stafford, Tyler Ennis and Andrej Sekera also netted goals for the Sabres, who snapped a two-game slide with the help of three power-play goals.
Ryan Miller stopped 29-of-33 shots for the win.
"It was a fun game for fans to watch, that's for sure," said Miller. "Lots of good chances and lots of scoring. It was a good hockey game and I'm glad we came out on top."
Joffrey Lupul, Dion Phaneuf, Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski lit the lamp for Toronto, which dropped its fifth game in seven tries.
James Reimer allowed all five goals on 29 shots to take the loss.
"It was a great atmosphere out there tonight," said Reimer. "Lots of Leafs fans and lots of Sabres fans. It was a fun game to play in but it was disappointing to not get the win."
After a scoreless first period, Toronto notched the first goal of the game just 1:49 into the second. A Buffalo turnover in the offensive zone led to a 2-on-1 rush that Lupul finished by lifting a shot under the crossbar from the left of the net.
The Sabres knotted the game a little over three minutes later while on a power play when Vanek circled behind the net before feeding a pass out front to Stafford, who one-timed a shot into the net.
The Maple Leafs took the lead again at the 9:03 mark of the second on a power play when Phaneuf ripped a one-timer from the left point that sailed into the top-right corner of the net.
But this lead was also short-lived as Vanek received a pass at the left circle and hesitated before wristing the puck past Reimer's glove just 19 seconds later.
Buffalo then took its first lead of the game thanks to a two-man advantage on a Ennis one-timer from the right circle with 5:52 left in the middle stanza, and took a 4-2 lead into the second intermission on another power play on Sekera's slap shot from the left circle.
Kulemin was awarded a penalty shot near the midpoint of the third period after getting tripped up on a breakaway opportunity and brought the Maple Leafs within one by sweeping across the front of the net from the right side and wristing a shot past the stick of Miller.
Vanek later gave Buffalo its two-goal lead back with 4:16 left in regulation when he finished a breakaway with a snap shot into the twine from the left circle, but Grabovski quickly made it 5-4 less than a minute later by putting back a rebound from the slot.
The Maple Leafs would not be able to net the equalizer, though, as Miller shut the door in the final three minutes to hold on for the win.
Stafford's goal was the 100th of his career...Jason Pominville recorded two assists for Buffalo...Toronto's Phil Kessel had an assist to up his points total to 37, two points behind Philadelphia's Claude Giroux for the league lead...Buffalo ended a five-game home stand with a 2-1-2 record and improved to 8-9-3 as the host this season...Toronto fell to 9-8-0 on the road.
12/17 00:10:47 ET