TORONTO (CP) - It didn't take Bryan McCabe long to atone for some recent mistakes.
The much-criticized defenceman scored 36 seconds into overtime Saturday night to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
"It's always nice to get one in overtime,'' he said.
The goal capped a tough week for McCabe. After practice Thursday, he was fined $1,000 and added to the NHL's divers list for a play from the previous weekend. When he found out, McCabe vehemently denied diving and vented to reporters.
In Thursday night's game, the Maple Leafs were extremely undisciplined in a 4-3 overtime loss to Columbus. With Toronto leading 2-1, McCabe took a cross-checking penalty and argued enough to earn an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty as well. The Blue Jackets tied the score on that power play and seized control.
Mats Sundin and Robert Svehla also scored for the Maple Leafs (39-26-6-3), who earned a point for the seventh straight game by turning a poor effort into a victory.
The Maple Leafs also moved to within four points of Philadelphia for fourth in the Eastern Conference.
| Ed Belfour made 25 stops including this one. |
Graig Abel Photography
On the winner, Sundin passed it to a wide-open McCabe, who hammered the puck over Buffalo goalie Mika Noronen's left shoulder.
"It was a hard shot. It just went by me and that's it,'' Noronen said.
McCabe gave a profanity-laced interview after Thursday's game in Columbus. He says that he has learned his lesson, though.
"I let it all out of my system the other night. I think you guys got enough quotes to last you for a year from me,'' McCabe told reporters. "You won't hear another peep out of me about the refs for the rest of the year.''
James Patrick and J.P. Dumont scored for the Sabres (22-35-9-7).
Svehla woke up the Air Canada Centre crowd of 19,372 when he tied the game at 7:30 of the third period. He took a pass from Mikael Renberg and beat Noronen from the top of the circle.
Maple Leafs coach and GM Pat Quinn was impressed with Svehla's play.
"He's had a very good year for us,'' Quinn said of Svehla, who also had an assist and was named the game's first star. "He understands the fundamentals and does them very well.''
With Toronto already having clinched a playoff spot and Buffalo having been out of the race since the second month of the season, the game meant little to either club.
And in the first period, it showed.
After Sundin opened the scoring at 4:17 on a power play, the game fell into a lull. Neither side generated much offence or demonstrated any emotion until the final minute when Buffalo's top line swarmed the Toronto zone.
The Sabres carried that momentum into the second, forcing Maple Leafs goalie Ed Belfour to make big saves on Dumont and Daniel Briere.
It looked like the Maple Leafs might again come unglued when Belfour took a penalty at 3:58 for hitting Briere in the groin with his blocker.
"Every time he goes by the net he gives you a whack or tries to interfere with you,'' Belfour said of Briere. "I was just letting him know it wasn't unnoticed.''
Patrick, 39, scored his fourth goal with a hard point shot to tie it 1-1 on the ensuing power play.
Dumont gave Buffalo a 2-1 lead at 18:01 of the second when he converted a Jochen Hecht pass on a two-on-one rush.
Boos cascaded from the stands as Toronto headed to the dressing room at the second intermission. The shot counter - reading Buffalo 21, Toronto 11 - told the story: Toronto had been thoroughly outworked by one of the NHL's worst teams through 40 minutes.
"We had a terrible second period,'' Sundin said. "At least we gave ourself a chance to get back late in the game instead of spending most of our time in the penalty box.
"I hope we learned a lesson in Columbus.''
Before the game, the crowd cheered loudly while Jackie Richardson sang the American national anthem. Fans booed the American anthem before an NHL game in Montreal on Thursday night in apparent protest of the American-led war in Iraq, which started a day earlier. NOTES
-- Nik Antropov sat out as a precaution because of a groin problem ... On power plays, the Sabres were 1-for-5 and the Leafs 1-for-4 . . . Belfour earned his second assist of the season on Toronto's first goal ... Sundin is scheduled to play his 1,000 NHL game in Boston on Monday night . . . Buffalo's Sean McMorrow played his first NHL game. McMorrow, a Toronto native, has taken more than three times as many major penalties (39) as shots (10) in 59 games with Rochester of the AHL this season.