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Leafs hold on for win in Buffalo

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
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BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs were having trouble winning at HSBC Arena until they ran into a Buffalo Sabres team that is having trouble winning anywhere.

Alexander Mogilny scored twice against his former team and Ed Belfour made 35 saves, including several key stops late, as the Maple Leafs ended a seven-game road winless streak against the reeling Sabres with a 3-2 victory.

Toronto had not won in Buffalo since February 17, 1999, going 0-5-2 since. But the Maple Leafs continued to get production from the top line of Mogilny, Mikael Renberg and Mats Sundin as they extended the Sabres' longest winless streak in 11 years to 10 games (0-8-2).
Mogilny now has 10 goals on the season.
Graig Abel Photography

"I have a lot of great memories here. It was my first home away from home, a lot of positive emotions," Mogilny said. "But I can understand a lot of tough times right now here, uncertainty.

You can pretty much see on their bench. It's kind of like, `What are we playing for?' It's difficult to play that way when you're not sure you're going to be here tomorrow or not."

Mogilny did his damage in a 2:17 span of the second period, when Buffalo erased a one-goal deficit and took a 3-1 lead.

Belfour was beaten by Tim Connolly with 11:20 remaining but turned aside the other 15 shots he faced in the third period. His biggest stop came with 1:57 to go when he slid left and smothered a deflection by Chris Gratton off a 3-on-2.

"I just tried to come across and pad stack, and fortunately, I was there on time," Belfour said.

"Ed was probably the difference tonight," Leafs coach Pat Quinn said. "Also, Mats was outstanding and Alex played a good game, too. We are happy for that because we haven't done very well out here (in the past)."

Stu Barnes had the other goal for the Sabres, who are two ties or losses from matching the longest winless streak in team history.

While the battle of Northeast Division rivals produced the first sellout of the season at HSBC Arena, half the crowd was rooting for Toronto.

"We wanted to get our fans into it, get off to a good start. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot again," Gratton said. "It gets Toronto's crowd into it. We can't worry about the crowd, we have to worry about the way we're playing and what we're going to have to do to win a game here."

The game started well enough for the Sabres, who took the lead on Barnes' goal with 4:19 to go in the first period.

Miroslav Satan worked around defenseman Tomas Kaberle in his own zone and sent Barnes down the right side on a 2-on-1. Barnes held the puck before beating Belfour from the faceoff circle for his fourth goal of the season.

Renberg tied it on the power play with 4:36 left in the second.

Martin Biron stopped Jonas Hoglund's shot from the left side, but the rebound came right to Renberg, who scored from the bottom of the right circle.

"We skated as good as we have skated during this ordeal we are going through," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "We made some nice plays and we just didn't finish. Our skill players didn't finish, Renberg didn't miss."

Mogilny put Toronto in front 96 seconds later on a similar play.

He was alone on the doorstep to Biron's left and had no trouble sweeping in a rebound.

Just over two minutes later, Mogilny knocked the puck out of mid-air in the neutral zone, broke in alone and wristed a shot past Biron.

Renberg, Mogilny and Sundin have scored 17 of Toronto's last 30 goals.

"It was a couple of lucky breaks here and there on the power play that turned the game around for us," Mogilny said. "But we know we still have to play better."

Connolly got the Sabres within a goal midway through the third period when he flipped in a rebound from below the right circle.

But Buffalo was 0-for-7 on the power play while giving Toronto six chances with the extra man.

"It's disheartening when you play that well in the first period and all you do is kill penalties in the second period," Sabres defenseman Rhett Warrener said. "We're a team that's in dire straits right now, nothing seems to be going our way. Excuses, excuses, but it went that way again tonight."
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