It took 65 minutes and a six round shootout, but the Sabres came a way with a 5-4 victory over Toronto on Thursday night at the First Niagara Center.
Steve Ott was once again a huge factor for Buffalo, netting the game-winner in the shootout. Ryan Miller extended the shootout three times, giving fan favorite, Ott, the chance to take the lead.
“That was a really great battle by both teams,” Ott said. I had goosebumps all the way through.”
There were plenty of fireworks to start this game. Just 2:09 into the opening period, 44 penalty minutes were taken. While John Scott dropped the gloves with Frazer McLaren, Colton Orr jumped Patrick Kaleta and threw numerous punches. Orr received a game misconduct as Kaleta never even took off his gloves. Buffalo came out of it with a four minute power play, but were unable to score.
Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri scored less than a minute and a half apart to give Toronto a 2-0 lead. Tyler Ennis connected with a power play goal late in the first period, cutting the deficit in half.
The Leafs seemed to be in control of this one after Mikhail Grabovski’s 7th goal of the season put Toronto up 3-1 midway through the game. Just minutes later, the Sabres responded. After falling and losing the puck on a breakaway, Marcus Foligno made up for his mistake by batting home a rebound. Less than a minute later, Jason Pominville broke an eight game goal drought, knotting the game at three.
Christian Ehrhoff blasted a shot from the point past Reimer justs 22 seconds into the 3rd period, giving the Sabres their first lead of the game. The goal marked the first time the Sabres have scored a power play goal in three consecutive games this season.
Kadri connected again in the 3rd period to tie the game at four, and it remained that way through the remainder of regulation and overtime.
With the victory, the Sabres move to just four points out of the 8th playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres closed the season series with Toronto, finishing the year with a 2-1-1 record against the Maple Leafs.
In last year’s final game of the series, the Sabres rallied from a three goal deficit to win it 6-5, in overtime. In this one, Buffalo trailed 2-0 and won in a shootout.
Buffalo will head back to Montreal to take on the Canadiens on Saturday night at the Bell Centre. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.