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Sports Then and Now

Sabres Corner: Buffalo Rakes Up Leafs

Posted on October 31, 2009 by Kevin Freiheit


When it looked like Buffalo was struggling against a team with one win, they pulled through and found a way to earn the two points. The Sabres have been doing this all season long. Buffalo has found ways to win when they are not at the top of their game.

The Sabres were not on their game Friday night against Toronto, but goaltender Ryan Miller was. Buffalo was outshot 35-28 and Miller was the main reason the Sabres were even in the game. “That’s who [Ryan Miller] is. He’s a battler and the backbone of our team,” Buffalo captain Craig Rivet said about Miller.

“We played against a feisty team that wanted a win, and he stood on his head a couple times to help us out. He was the main reason we got the win.”

He stopped 33 shots, and with the help of the goal post and some luck, the Sabres stole two points from Toronto.

Miller improved to 8-0-1 on the season as he leads the league in goals against average (.944) and save percentage (1.65).

Buffalo got on the board first when Drew Stafford scored on a 5-on-3. Thomas Vanek earned his first assist of the season.

Toronto came right back on their power play opportunity. Ian White scored his second of the season, as Toronto tied the game up by one.

Many Sabres fans have mentioned that if Tim Connolly can stay healthy, he could be a solid point producer for the team. He proved them right in this game by scoring his third to put Buffalo up by one, foreshadowing the game winner.

Then came the third: Buffalo’s nightmare

Buffalo was outshot 16-5 in the third, allowing the game tying goal with under a minute left. Mikhail Grabovski was the one to get it by Miller to tie it up. Toronto scored the goal with the goalie pulled, but they also had a man in the penalty box, costing them later. Without Miller the Sabres may not even made it to overtime.

In overtime, it took Connolly a minute and some change to score his fourth of the season and win the game for the Sabres.

“It’s a huge win for us,” Connolly said. “That’s one of our best wins of the year. [Toronto] controlled the play for a lot of the game, but to battle through and win, those games are important. You have to be able to win games when there’s not a lot going on.”

Jonas Gustavsson (a.k.a. “the monster”) was just not enough for the Toronto.

Sabres have started fast out of the gate this season.

Sabres have started fast out of the gate this season.

The Leafs were, and still are desperate for points. They are on pace for less than 50 points, nowhere near their expected total.

Toronto falls to 1-7-3 on the season, while Buffalo improves to 8-1-1. Only the 10-0 start in 2006 was better.

Buffalo heads to Long Island tonight to begin a home and home series with the Islanders. Buffalo defeated the Isles 6-3 in their first meeting this season.

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