Ryan Miller gave the Buffalo Sabres a chance to win. Tim Connolly made sure they did.
Miller made 33 saves before Connolly's second goal of the game, a power-play blast 1:04 into overtime, gave the Sabres a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night.
Buffalo is now 8-1-1, matching the 1975-76 team's performance through 10 games. Only the 2006-07 Sabres, who went 10-0 to begin the season, were better.
Miller was the main reason the Sabres went home with two points against Toronto. The Leafs were all over Buffalo in the third period, outshooting the Sabres 16-5. Miller preserved the lead until the final minute, when Mikhail Grabovski's shorthanded goal with 38 seconds left forced OT.
But without Miller, now 8-0-1 this season, the Sabres wouldn't have gotten that far.
"That's who he 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."
The Leafs appeared headed for another disappointing loss when Matt Stajan was called for interference in the offensive zone with 54 seconds left in regulation and Toronto trailing by a goal. But they won the faceoff, pulled goaltender Jonas Gustavsson and forced overtime when Grabovski knocked Tomas Kaberle's slapper from the right point out of the air and into the net.
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said his goaltender's play was enough to overcome the Leafs' hard work and his own team's lack of energy.
"(Miller) grabbed the bull by the horns and did his thing, which was great to see," Ruff said. "Our energy level wasn't very good. They came out with the all-out press, and you have to give them credit."
Unfortunately for Toronto, Stajan's penalty carried over into OT. The Sabres worked the puck around patiently until Connolly teed up a slap shot from the high slot and blasted it through a screen and past a defenseless Gustavsson.
"It's a huge win for us," Connolly said. "That's one of our best wins of the year. They 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."
The Leafs (1-7-3) lost in OT for the second time in three nights. They lost 4-3 at Dallas on Wednesday.
"We played a solid game but sometimes it's not enough," said Kaberle, who had two assists. "We did a good job going to the net in the third. The first few games in the season we were just standing around and waiting for good plays and empty nets that weren't there."
Until Grabovski's late heroics, it looked like Connolly's go-ahead goal midway through the second period and Miller's superb play in net would be enough to give the Sabres their eighth win in 10 games.
Jason Pominville intercepted a pass by Niklas Hagman just inside the Buffalo blue line and spotted Connolly coming off the bench on a line change. His pass up the middle caught Connolly in full stride, and the speedy center raced in alone before beating Jonas Gustavsson with a wrist shot at 10:39.
The Leafs allowed the first goal for the 11th time in as many games when Drew Stafford beat Gustavsson with a power-play slap shot from the slot at 15:11 of the opening period. Ian White tied it for the Leafs at 18:53, just as a penalty to Stafford expired, by ripping a slap shot past Miller from the top of the right circle.
"We're doing a lot of things well," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. "If we keep doing this, the results are going to be there. We have to keep persevering."
-- John Kreiser, NHL.com
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report
|PPG - Drew Stafford (4) ASST: Thomas Vanek (1), Tim Connolly (6)|
1 - 0 BUF
|Ian White (2) ASST: Tomas Kaberle (11), Niklas Hagman (3)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Tim Connolly (3) ASST: Jason Pominville (5)|
2 - 1 BUF
|SHG - Mikhail Grabovski (3) ASST: Tomas Kaberle (12), John Mitchell (5)|
2 - 2 Tie
|PPG - Tim Connolly (4) ASST: Derek Roy (8), Jason Pominville (6)|
3 - 2 BUF
|Tim Kennedy Roughing against Ian White|
|Ian White Roughing against Tim Kennedy|
|Craig Rivet Slashing against Wayne Primeau|
|Tomas Kaberle Hooking against Matt Ellis|
|Lee Stempniak Hi-sticking against Tyler Myers|
|Rickard Wallin Tripping against Tim Connolly|
|Drew Stafford Hi-sticking against Garnet Exelby|
|Colton Orr Roughing against Patrick Kaleta|
|Garnet Exelby Roughing against Patrick Kaleta|
|Patrick Kaleta Roughing against Garnet Exelby|
|Tyler Myers Hooking against Mikhail Grabovski|
|Tyler Myers Holding against Nikolay Kulemin|
|Wayne Primeau Tripping against Tyler Myers|
|Matt Stajan Interference against Clarke MacArthur|