TORONTO -- John Tavares and Mitchell Marner each had a goal and two assists for the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 5-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday.
The Maple Leafs remained three points behind the Boston Bruins for second place in the Atlantic Division. The Bruins defeated the New Jersey Devils 1-0 on Saturday.
"I think we knew we were a lot better than the way we played (on Thursday in a 6-1 loss at the New York Islanders)," Tavares said. "We had a good day away from the rink on Friday, got some energy back and just tried to put the puck in deep and really try to wear them down and play a lot more in the offensive zone. We were a lot smarter with the puck through the neutral zone, especially with their transition game and the skilled guys they have."
[WATCH: All Sabres vs. Maple Leafs highlights]
Nic Petan scored in his debut, and Frederik Andersen made 35 saves for the Maple Leafs (40-21-4), who are 4-1-0 in their past five games.
Jason Pominville and Conor Sheary scored, and Linus Ullmark made 27 saves for the Sabres (30-27-8), who have lost three of four and trail the Montreal Canadiens by nine points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
"I'm not going to beat around the bush, it's disappointing we didn't get the result," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. "We didn't meet our standard tonight. But I like the way we played in the third period. I mean, these guys have fought and battled together, fought for each other in the third period. We get one goal, it changes the complexion of the game. But the bottom line is we just didn't get the result at this time of the year."
Video: BUF@TOR: Petan hammers one-timer for first with Leafs
Petan, acquired in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets on Monday, put the Maple Leafs ahead 3-2 at 15:02 of the second period when he one-timed a pass from Trevor Moore in the slot.
"It felt great. There's obviously improvement that needs to be made in the rest of my game, but it felt good to be out there again and the goal was a cherry on top," said Petan, who had not played since Dec. 22. "It was an unreal pass. I just was yelling super loud and when we got back to the bench [Moore] said, 'good yell,' and it was a phenomenal pass. I didn't really think about it too much, I just smacked it and it went in."
Nikita Zaitsev made it 4-2 at 19:05 when his shot from the right half boards went off Sabres defenseman Brandon Montour's skate in the slot.
Video: BUF@TOR: Zaitsev scores off skate to double lead
The Maple Leafs went up 1-0 at 4:20 of the first period when Tavares put in a rebound at the side of the crease.
Pominville tied it 1-1 at 6:00 when he put in a loose puck that got behind Andersen.
Sheary put the Sabres up 2-1 at 7:34 when he corralled a flip pass at the blue line from Kyle Okposo and shot past Andersen's glove from the high slot.
Video: BUF@TOR: Sheary snipes bouncing puck by Andersen
Morgan Rielly tied it 2-2 at 19:40 when his point shot went between Ullmark's pads.
Marner scored into an empty net with 1:57 left in the third period for the 5-2 final. It was his 23rd goal of the season, an NHL career high.
"I think we started from the first period and played the game we wanted to, and when we got down we didn't turn the puck over or get desperate," Marner said. "We played the game we wanted to and knew it was going to come eventually."
They said it
"They're a good team, good rivalry, for sure. I've been fortunate to be on the good side of things for a while. But we got to find a way to get that hate a little bit more, especially at home. We got to find a way to win a game against this team." -- forward Jason Pominville on Buffalo's four-game losing streak to the Maple Leafs
"I think we have a good habit of stepping on the gas a little bit and try to go after the opponent instead of sitting back too much. It's obviously nice when you have confidence when you have the lead, and it's always great to have the lead going into the third period." -- Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen on Toronto's record of 31-0-0 when leading after two periods
Need to know
Maple Leafs forward Patrick Marleau played in his 1,640th NHL game, passing Dave Andreychuk for seventh place on the all-time list... Forward Auston Matthews joined Marner as the second player in Maple Leafs history to begin their NHL career with three-consecutive 60-point seasons... The Maple Leafs reached 40 wins in their 65th game, the fewest to 40 in their history. They won 40 games in their 69th game in 2017-18 and 1950-51. … Sabres forward Jack Eichel had his seven-game point streak end.
Sabres: Host the Edmonton Oilers on Monday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN1, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVAS, MSG-B, NHL.TV)
Maple Leafs: At the Calgary Flames on Monday (9 p.m. ET; SNW, TSN4, NHL.TV)
Video: Tavares, Marner lead Maple Leafs to 5-2 win