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Toronto takes sleepy Sabres

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
TORONTO (Ticker) -- Corey Schwab is proving more than a capable replacement for Curtis Joseph.

Schwab had to make just 20 saves for his first shutout in more than four years and enforcer Tie Domi scored a fluke goal in the second period as the Toronto Maple Leafs dealt the Buffalo Sabres' playoff hopes a blow with a 2-0 blanking.

The Leafs No. 1 goaltender with Joseph sidelined for the rest of the regular season with a broken hand, Schwab rarely was tested as he recorded his first shoutout since December 17, 1997 as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"This is probably our best defensive game since I've been playing," Schwab said. "When you play well defensively, you have a better chance of getting a shutout."

Schwab improved to 4-0-3 in his last seven starts and is 5-2-4 since Joseph was injured on February 26. Schwab has remained the club's No. 1 netminder even with the acquisition of veteran Tom Barrasso from Carolina.

While Schwab was flawless, a mistake by Buffalo goaltender Martin Biron led to Domi's go-ahead goal.

Straying into the right corner, Biron fired the puck up the boards. But he was caught out of position and had his stick held by Toronto's Shayne Corson while trying to return to the net. Domi gathered the puck along the boards and fired a shot that found its way into a vacated net with 2:41 left in the period.

Biron and Sabres coach Lindy Ruff protested Domi's sixth goal of the season and first in 27 games.

"It was one of those plays where I get a lucky break, I'll take it," Domi said.

"I went to play the puck in the corner," Biron said. "As I shot it, Corson kind of grabbed my stick and wrapped it around his neck and held it there for a fraction of a second."

Alexander Mogilny added an insurance goal early in the third for the Leafs, who remained three points behind first-place Boston in the Northeast Division.

Buffalo fell to 1-3-1 in its last five games and remained five points behind Montreal for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

Despite fighting for their playoff lives, the Sabres played an uninspired game, going 0-for-4 and failing to register a shot on the power play. Buffalo is scoreless in its last 16 chances with the extra attacker.

"It was awful, it was awful," Ruff said. "Look at the passing. The passing was off. You can't stand in one place and make soft passes, and we weren't very good on retrievals. It was awful."

In a tight-checking opening period, the Leafs had the best scoring chance with under six minutes left, but Biron stopped Mogilny's one-timer from the slot. Each team had seven shots over the first 20 minutes.

Biron rarely was tested until his miscue on the Leafs' 10th shot of the game led to Domi's goal.

The mistake proved costly as Schwab was steady throughout en route to his fourth career shutout. His best save came with just under five minutes left in the third period when he stopped Maxim Afinogenov's slap shot from the left faceoff circle.

"As a whole, as a group, everyone bought into the system tonight," Leafs defenceman Bryan McCabe said. "I don't think they had any real quality scoring chances. From that aspect, it's a picture of art out there for us. We love to see that and we love to get Schwabie a shutout. He's worked hard for us. He's played hard for us."

Mogilny scored on a 2-on-1 at 2:53 of the third. Defenceman Tomas Kaberle carried the puck into the Sabres' zone and slid a pass across to Mogilny, who fired a quick one-timer by Biron for his 18th goal.

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