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game recap

Evander Kane scores twice, Sabres top Maple Leafs

Buffalo builds early lead, gains on Toronto in Atlantic Division

by Dave McCarthy / NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- Evander Kane scored twice for the Buffalo Sabres in a 3-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Saturday.

Robin Lehner made 43 saves for the Sabres (23-22-10), who are 3-1-2 in their past six games and five points behind the Maple Leafs (25-18-11) for fourth place in the Atlantic Division.

"We came out flying, it was great to see. I think we had a solid first period," Lehner said. "They're a good team over there, obviously they're going to come back and make a push. They kind of had one the last five minutes of the first and they had one in the second. I thought we kept our composure, though, and helped each other out. They got a lucky one, but still we didn't panic that much, I don't think."

 

WATCH: All Sabres vs. Maple Leafs highlights

 

The Sabres had a 2-0 lead and outshot the Maple Leafs 6-0 before Morgan Rielly got Toronto's first shot at 9:06.

"Last time we were in this building we got out to a 2-0 lead but gave it back in a second there," Kane said of a 4-3 loss Jan. 17. "When we get these leads, we want to increase them and we want to extend them. They scored a power-play goal but we didn't let that affect us the way we did last time."

Video: BUF@TOR: Kane scores again in the 1st period

Kane scored 4:13 into the first period to make it 1-0, and Sam Reinhart scored a power-play goal 55 seconds later after taking a pass from forward Kyle Okposo on a 2-on-1.

Kane scored his second at 18:02 when he one-timed a shot past Frederik Andersen's glove to put Buffalo up 3-0. He has four goals in his past three games.

"Pretty sure he's going to shoot it whether he's hot or cold or indifferent," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "But I thought the third goal was one I really liked. It's not an area he gets in and is a recipient of a pass too often, and that's a sign of another level to his game. Not just the speed and shooting the puck down the wing, but to find that soft area there."

Mitchell Marner scored a power-play goal at 15:57 of the second period to pull Toronto within 3-1.

Lehner was tested in the third period and made two crucial saves: on Rielly at 2:22, and on a point-blank shot from Tyler Bozak at 6:00.

"You put all that energy in, and chase the game around for the next 45 minutes, and yet your first 15 minutes sink you," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. "You [have] to give them credit, they were prepared, they were organized, they played harder than we did at the start. It's like being a pitcher, if you're the goalie (with a 3-0 lead). When they've got to get five runs, it's way easier to be a good pitcher."

Andersen allowed three goals on 23 shots.

 

Goal of the game

Sabres center Jack Eichel beat Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews cleanly on an offensive-zone faceoff. Reinhart pushed the puck back to Kane, who shot past Andersen from the top of the right-wing circle for his first goal.

Video: BUF@TOR: Kane goes top shelf to open the scoring

 

Save of the game

Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk set up Bozak in the slot for a point-blank shot, but Lehner quickly got down in butterfly position to make the save and keep it 3-1.

Video: BUF@TOR: Lehner stands strong, stones Bozak with pad

 

Highlight of the game

Marner carried the puck into the Sabres zone on the right wing and froze Lehner at the side of the net. He went around the net and put the puck off the skate of defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen from behind the goal line. It ricocheted off the skate, off Lehner's blocker and into the net.

Video: BUF@TOR: Marner nets slick wraparound power-play goal

 

Unsung performance of the game

Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe got down on all fours and made saves on van Riemsdyk and Marner as they tried to jam the puck in at the top of the goal crease with 10 seconds left in the third period and Lehner out of position.

 

They said it

"Certainly one of our better starts. We got the faceoff goal from Jack to Evander there off the right dot, and then we got a chance to get on the power play and capitalize. I thought we kept it going. It was our plan to come out and put a lot of pressure on them and establish a forecheck, and the third goal was a result of that." -- Sabres coach Dan Bylsma

 

"That first 10 minutes, you need to keep it simple. You [have] to make sure pucks get in deep, not turning it over and giving them free ice through the neutral zone. They've got fast guys that can make plays and they definitely did that tonight." -- Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews

 

Need to know

Maple Leafs forward Ben Smith won all seven faceoffs he took.

 

What's next

Sabres: Host the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday (7:30 p.m. ET; MSG-B, SNP, NHL.TV)

Maple Leafs: Host the New York Islanders on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN4, MSG+, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Kane, Lehner power Sabres past Maple Leafs, 3-1

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