TORONTO - While Buffalo general manager Tim Murray watched Connor McDavid play for the Erie Otters, the Sabres and the Toronto Maple Leafs faced off with fans of both teams hoping to get hockey's "Next One."
What the Leafs gave the Sabres in the form of turnovers, the Sabres returned with ill-advised penalties that let the game reach overtime. It went all the way to the shootout, and Jonathan Bernier stopped all three shots to give the Leafs a 4-3 victory and the second point Wednesday night at Air Canada Centre.
Next month, ping-pong balls will be more valuable than points when the NHL draft lottery determines which team will get the chance to select McDavid first overall. Buffalo (19-42-6) remains in the driver's seat for last place and a 20 per cent chance, three points back of the Edmonton Oilers.
Toronto (27-35-6) passed the Carolina Hurricanes to move into 26th overall with 14 games remaining for the Leafs. That would give them an 8.5 per cent chance of landing McDavid, whose point streak ended Wednesday night at 27 games.
Tyler Bozak scored the only goal in the shootout after getting the tying goal late in regulation. Brandon Kozun and Leo Komarov also scored for Toronto, while Bernier stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced in regulation and overtime.
Rookie defenceman Andrew MacWilliam picked up his first NHL point in his debut.
Johan Larsson, Tyler Ennis and Matt Moulson scored for the Sabres. Anders Lindback made 31 saves, including one highlight-reel glove stop in overtime on Komarov.
Each team entered the night 7-26-3 in its past 36 games dating to mid-December.
Phaneuf gave the puck away to Moulson on Larsson's goal that opened the scoring. Kozun and Komarov scored 21 seconds apart, the fastest consecutive goals of the season, to give the Leafs the lead.
The back-and-forth affair continued when Joffrey Lupul lost his handle on the puck to Moulson, and Ennis was wide open in front to make it 2-2. Buffalo took the lead on a rush goal in the second period before Bozak tipped Kessel's shot on the power play to tie it again late in the third.
Notes — Nazem Kadri was again a healthy scratch for the Leafs, who decided to extend the centre's punishment to three games for a pattern of off-ice problems. Kadri missed a team meeting Sunday, and president Brendan Shanahan said Wednesday morning that the 24-year-old "needs to start making better decisions." ... Leafs defenceman Stephane Robidas will have shoulder surgery Thursday.
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