NHL Game Summary - Buffalo at Toronto
(Thursday, January 26th)
Final Score: Buffalo 8, Toronto 4
Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Thomas Vanek had two goals to lead the Buffalo Sabres past the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs, 8-4, at Air Canada Centre.
Chris Drury, Jason Pominville, Brian Campbell, Jochen Hecht and Jay McKee all had a goal and an assist for the Sabres, who have won two straight after dropping their previous two games. Ryan Miller made 33 saves in the victory.
Alex Steen scored twice and Alexander Khavanov and Alexei Ponikarovsky added goals for the Maple Leafs, who have dropped seven games in a row for the first time since a seven-game slid from January 3-20, 1997.
Ed Belfour started in net but was pulled after allowing four goals on 16 shots. Mikael Tellqvist replaced him in net and stopped 12 of 15 shots.
Toronto's longest losing streak was a 10-game slide during the 1966-67 season, which was the last season the team won the Stanley Cup.
The Maple Leafs got on the scoreboard with an early power play goal. Kyle Wellwood had the puck high in the slot and sent it to Steen down low on the right side of the net. Steen put the puck over Miller's left shoulder for the 1-0 lead just 4:08 into the first period.
The Sabres tied it up thanks to a lucky deflection. Hecht had the puck deep along the left boards and was attempting to pass it to the right side, but it hit Toronto's Andrew Wozniewski in front of the net and went past Belfour with 7:22 left in the opening stanza.
Buffalo took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission thanks to Derek Roy's fifth goal of the season. Roy brought the puck into the Toronto zone on the rush and let fly with a wrister from inside the left circle that went over Belfour's left pad with 1:48 left.
The Sabres took a 4-1 lead with two quick goals in the second period.
While on the power play, Drury sent a pass from the high slot to Campbell at the left circle. Campbell snapped a one-timer that went over Belfour's glove just 3:11 in. Just 10 seconds later, Vanek snapped a turnaround shot from the left circle that went through Belfour's five-hole. Belfour was pulled after the score and replaced by Tellqvist.
However, Toronto got back into the game with two tallies.
During a 5-on-3 opportunity, Wellwood snapped a shot from the right point that Miller made a save on. But Steen gathered the rebound on the right side and flicked it over Miller 8:04 into the second. A little over five minutes later, Ponikarovsky snapped a one-timer from Nik Antropov into the net to make it a 4-3 game.
"They were desperate," said Drury. "They played that way. To be honest with you I didn't know they were on that type of a streak, but we got two points and that matters."
But Pominville gave Buffalo its two-goal edge back 39 seconds later when his wrister from the right circle went through Tellqvist's five-hole.
While Buffalo was on the power-play, Chad Kilger forced a turnover and brought the puck into the offensive zone. From the left boards, he sent a centering pass to Khavanov, who tipped the puck into the net for a shorthanded tally with 3:40 left in the second to make it a 5-4 contest.
The Sabres made it 6-4 during 4-on-3 play. Drury and Ales Kotalik played catch with the puck and Drury finally one-timed it from the left circle into the left corner of the net 6:18 into the final 20 minutes.
Vanek poked in a rebound from the left side off of a Hecht shot from the right circle for a power-play tally with 6:13 left and McKee added a shorthanded empty-net tally with one second remaining for the final scores of the game.
Toronto hosts the Canadiens on Saturday...The Sabres travel to Atlanta for a game on Tuesday...Buffalo learned on Wednesday that forward Tim Connolly, who took a vicious hip check from Rangers defenseman Darius Kasparaitis during Tuesday's 2-1 victory, suffered a grade-two knee sprain and is expected to be out of action for six-to-eight weeks...Toronto defenseman Aki Berg left in the first period with a rib injury and did not return...The Maple Leafs have 13 shorthanded goals on the season.
01/26 23:11:07 ET