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Total team effort leads Leafs to season series sweep over Sabres

by Adam Proteau Proteautype / MapleLeafs.com

The Maple Leafs beat Buffalo by a 4-2 final on Wednesday night, sweeping the season series over the Sabres with a fourth victory this season.

LEAFS CAN'T CONNECT FOR ANY GOALS IN FIRST PERIOD, BUT THEY EVEN THE SCORE, TAKE LEAD IN SECOND

The Maple Leafs were playing their second road game in as many nights, and after losing 3-0 to Nashville Tuesday, the Buds were focused on beating a young Sabres squad in Buffalo. Despite firing 19 shots on net in the opening frame alone, Toronto couldn't light the lamp and they trailed the Sabres 1-0 on a power play goal from forward Casey Middlestadt at 15:07 of the opening frame.

However, the Leafs pushed back in the second, and the pushback started early: just 1:43 into the period, centre Auston Matthews netted his 35th goal of the year:

Video: TOR@BUF: Matthews nets equalizer off his skate

 The Leafs outshot Buffalo 19-7 in the first, and then again by a 19-8 count in the second. Those provide an accurate indication of the Leafs' dominance in the first 40 minutes of action. And Toronto finally got the go-ahead goal with only 1:28 left in the second when centre John Tavares registered his 41st of the year:

Video: TOR@BUF: Matthews gets 200th point on Tavares' goal

Matthews had the secondary assist on Tavares' goal, giving Matthews 68 points in his 60th game of the year and the 200th point of his NHL career.

MARNER OPENS SCORING IN THIRD, BUT SABRES CUT LEAFS' LEAD BACK TO ONE GOAL

Toronto extended its lead to 3-1 at the 22-second mark of the third when winger Mitch Marner scored his 25th goal of the season:

Video: TOR@BUF: Marner strikes early in 3rd to pad lead

The Marner marker proved to be important as Buffalo scored its second goal of the night at the 5:37 mark and cut Toronto's lead to 3-2 with approximately three-quarters of the period remaining. The Sabres played slightly better in the third and outshot Toronto 9-8, but goalie Garret Sparks turned aside 22 of 24 Buffalo shots by game's end, and the Leafs generated an insurance goal when winger Zach Hyman scored into an empty net at 19:27. 

The Leafs snapped their two-game losing streak Wednesday, and now have a couple of days off before a Scotiabank Arena showdown against the New York Rangers Saturday night with just eight games left on the schedule before the postseason.

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