Sabres' third power play goal, coming from rookie defenceman Tyler Myers at 7:30 of the second period gave the home team a 3-0 lead. It proved to be the difference, despite the Leafs showing immense heart in fighting back to cut the deficit to one in the third period.
In that final frame the Leafs recovered the two goals they conceded late in the first, but were unable to answer for Myers' fatal tally, which was the 19-year old's second of the game in a three point (2G, 1A) night.
Leafs' slumping penalty killing percentage. Next closest is Edmonton with 76.1%
Times this season that the Leafs have fallen behind 2-0.
Ryan Miller was already considered a Hart Trophy contender for NHL's most valuable player before the puck dropped in Buffalo. His stock is higher than ever now after making a career-high 48 saves (18-10-20).
Miller's performance stole the night from game's first star Myers. The U.S. Olympic goaltender subdued the Leafs' momentum during a first period flurry making 18 stops in the midst of three Leaf power plays. Sabres then pulled away on their next three man-advantage situations.
Luke Schenn was the brightest star on the night for the Leafs.
The second year defenceman enjoyed his first multi-point night of the season, receiving an assist on both Leaf goals and finishing the game with a +2 rating from 20:07 of ice time. In the first of his two helpers, Schenn wired the puck toward goal before Matt Stajan tipped it in. On the second, he had the awareness to find Lee Stempniak behind the Sabres net, who centred to John Mitchell to finish the play.
Unfortunately for the Leafs, the Sabres continued domination in head-to-head meetings between the two clubs is the only story here.
Sabres have now won 10 straight games against the Leafs. During that stretch the Sabres have outscored the Leafs 38-14, while amassing a 34.3% power play and a 94.1% penalty killing record against the blue and white. Ryan Miller has won all five meetings against the Leafs this season accumulating a 1.58 GAA and a .960 SV% in those games.
Ron Wilson on Vesa Toskala and Leafs power play and penalty killing woes:
"Vesa got stuck a couple of times moving side to side on the penalty kill, but 5-on-5, he made some big saves."
"Special teams, right now, that's all we talk about before the game. I think we're a little bit psyched out."
Friday January 9 vs. Penguins 7 PM ET (CBC, AM640)
Game Notes: The league's worst power play (Penguins 14.4%) meets NHL's most dismal penalty killing (Leafs 68.4%) on Saturday night at ACC.
The season series is tied 1-1 with the Leafs surprising the Pens on December 27 with a 4-3 away win. Penguins however, beat the Leafs 5-2 at ACC on October 10.