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Leafs, Sabres tie one on

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- The trip to HSBC Arena is a short one for the Toronto Maple Leafs. But it's one they'd rather not make.

Red-hot Vyacheslav Kozlov scored a power-play goal with 6:15 left in regulation as the Buffalo Sabres rallied for a 3-3 tie with the Maple Leafs.

Third-period goals by Darcy Tucker and Robert Reichel gave Toronto a 3-2 lead. But the Maple Leafs have just one regulation win in 16 trips to Buffalo since February 17, 1991.

"We don't have much success here in this building," Reichel said. "We had the lead and they scored on the power play. It was an up and down game, but we're happy with the point."

Toronto's Gary Roberts was penalized for roughing with 7:04 to go in the third period and the Sabres needed just 49 seconds to tie it. Left off the Russian Olympic team, Kozlov capped a three-point night when he got the rebound of defenseman Jason Woolley's shot and put a soft flip past goaltender Curtis Joseph from a tight angle on the left side.
A marginal roughing call to Gary Roberts allowed the Sabres to tie the game on the power play.

Kozlov has three goals and eight assists during a six-game points streak and has at least one point in nine of 10 contests since he was benched on November 27 against the New York Rangers.

"He's played very well, he might have been our best player (tonight)," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "His puck possession game and some of the moves he made down low, he's really elevated his play."

Defenseman Jyrki Lumme also scored for the Maple Leafs, who have lost just twice in their last 10 games overall (7-2-1).

"We played hard tonight, but (had) some little breakdowns," Tucker said. "Obviously, when you have a 3-2 lead with 10 minutes left in the game, you've got to be able to pull that out."

Tucker tied it 2:29 into the third period, extending his points streak to six games. He broke down the right side on a 2-on-1, got a pass from Alexander Mogilny and put a wrist shot under sliding goalie Mika Noronen.

"Anytime you get a 2-on-1 with (Mogilny), you've just got to put your stick on the ice. It's a matter of trying to find the open net," Tucker said. "We've played together for most of the last couple of months. We're getting used to each other and finding ways to score goals at key times of the game."

Reichel put Toronto ahead just over five minutes later off a giveaway by defenseman Alexei Zhitnik. It was his ninth goal of the season and third in five games.

The Maple Leafs scored first on the power play at 8:21 of the opening period as Lumme got his first goal since he was acquired from Dallas on November 21.

But Maxim Afinogenov, added to the Russian Olympic team before the game, tied it 7:04 into the second period off a feed from Kozlov.

"It helps a lot, a player like him," Afinogenov said of his linemate. "He can handle the puck and score goals. He can hold the puck and give it to me full speed. I think it's helped a lot with this line."

Kozlov also had a hand in Tim Connolly's go-ahead power-play tally with 7:09 to go in the period. Connolly took a pass from defenseman Jason Woolley in the slot and had plenty of time to pick a spot over Joseph's left shoulder.

"If you look at it, it was a good hockey game," Ruff said. "We let them back in, gave them a couple of odd-number situations.

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