NHL Game Summary - Buffalo at Toronto
(Thursday, December 29th)
Final Score: Toronto 4, Buffalo 3 (SO)
Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Alexei Ponikarovsky and Mats Sundin each scored in the shootout to lift the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Buffalo Sabres, 4-3, at Air Canada Centre.
Ponikarovsky also scored a goal in regulation for the Leafs, who blew a pair of leads in the game but recovered to win their fourth straight contest. Bryan McCabe and Darcy Tucker also scored goals for Toronto, which improved to 6-2 in its last eight contests.
Tim Connolly had a goal and two assists for the Sabres, who had a two-game win streak halted and lost for just the second time in 11 contests. Buffalo fell to 17-2-2 in its last 21 games.
In the shootout, Buffalo's Ales Kotalik started things off by shooting over the net.
Sundin then came through with the first goal of the shootout by beating Buffalo netminder Martin Biron high to the glove side with a wrist shot.
Toronto goaltender Ed Belfour then stopped Thomas Vanek, giving Ponikarovsky the chance to win it.
Ponikarovsky skated in on Biron, drew the puck from his forehand to backhand and flipped it over the netminder for the win.
The Maple Leafs jumped out to a 2-0 lead courtesy of goals by Ponikarovsky and McCabe. Ponikarovsky scored a short-handed goal on a backhander off a Matt Stajan breakaway feed with six minutes remaining in the first period. McCabe followed that with a slap shot from the left circle that beat Biron high to the glove side 1:47 later.
"It's a great win to end the (calendar) year for our fans." said Ponikarovsky. "I should have had another goal later in the game, but my stick snapped. Just to score a goal and win is great."
Buffalo made it a one-goal game going into the first intermission when Connolly knocked home a rebound of a Vanek wrap-around attempt with 2:46 left in the first.
Then, in the second, Henrik Tallinder evened things up just 4:37 into the frame. Buffalo was down a man when Tallinder beat Belfour to tie the contest at 2-2.
Tucker, however, sent the Maple Leafs into the third with a 3-2 lead when he beat Biron 1:18 after Tallinder's tally. Toronto was still on the power play when Tucker recorded his goal.
In the third, Jason Pominville registered a power-play goal of his own, tying the game for the Sabres. With 8:07 elapsed in the stanza, Pominville took a pass from Brian Campbell at the top of the right circle and beat Belfour five-hole with a slap shot.
"We had a hellish start, but it was a big point for us," said Connolly. "The game was a little more up and down than we like to play."
Belfour ended with 27 saves, while Biron stopped 25 shots.
Ponikarovsky has an NHL-leading four shorthanded goals...Toronto has played in four straight one-goal games, winning all four contests...Buffalo fell to 3-2 in shootouts...Toronto improved to 2-3 in shootouts...Connolly recorded his third three-point game of the season...Buffalo ended 1-for-4 on the power play...Toronto went 1-for-5 with the man advantage...Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff indicated that center Daniel Briere might have a sports hernia. Briere has missed the last six games with an abdomen injury. Tests on Friday will reveal the extent of the injury.
12/29 22:53:26 ET