TORONTO -- Jack Eichel extended his NHL season-high point streak to 17 games, but the Buffalo Sabres lost 5-3 to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on Tuesday.
"I think the battle level probably wasn't there," Eichel said. "They were desperate, they came out hard. Obviously you got to give them credit, they played well. We didn't execute our game as well as we wanted to in the beginning, made a couple errors. They made us pay."
[WATCH: All Sabres vs. Maple Leafs highlights]
Auston Matthews scored twice, Frederik Gauthier had a goal and an assist, and Frederik Andersen made 27 saves for the Maple Leafs (17-14-4), who are 4-1-0 in their past five games.
"In the first half of the game we did a lot of good things on the cycle earning some offense, but we'd like to be a little better in the second half of the game," Maple Leafs center John Tavares said. "As we start to play with some more leads, obviously that's a good sign and something we want to keep doing. We want to continue to control the game and make our opponent defend, but overall we stuck with it so it was a good win."
Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin each had a goal and an assist, and Linus Ullmark made 28 saves for the Sabres (16-12-7), who had a five-game point streak end (3-0-2).
"I'm disappointed that we didn't make more of a game of it early because you could see when we made the push and we got to our game we found our legs. There was a real chance to take points here tonight," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. "That speaks for the character of the group. We can recover within a game so that's something to build on."
Eichel has 31 points (16 goals, 15 assists) during the streak, which is tied for the second-longest in Sabres history with Dave Andreychuk, who had a 17-game streak from Dec. 31, 1991-Feb. 4, 1992 and from Oct. 8-Nov. 14, 1992. Gilbert Perreault holds the Sabres record at 18 games (Oct. 24-Dec. 4, 1971).
Eichel assisted on Dahlin's power-play goal at 1:29 of the third period to cut the Toronto lead to 3-1.
Dmytro Timashov put the Maple Leafs up 4-1 on a breakaway at 4:58, but Eichel brought the Sabres back to within 4-2 at 6:30.
Video: BUF@TOR: Timashov puts home backhander on the break
Kyle Okposo cut the lead to 4-3 at 14:41, but Ilya Mikheyev made it 5-3 at 17:26, scoring shorthanded into an empty net.
"Playing with the lead, getting the lead, there were a lot of positives that we saw but I still think there's a long way for the team to go," Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. "We're still nowhere near what I think we're capable of."
Gauthier intercepted a clearing attempt by Brandon Montour in the slot and shot past Ullmark's blocker at 2:30 of the first period to put Toronto up 1-0.
"It's great when you get contributions from everyone, it's a pretty good feeling and usually leads to a pretty good result," Tavares said about Gauthier, who has scored in consecutive games, and Timashov.
"It's great to see those guys get rewarded for all their hard work, they're really good hockey players and usually finish when they get the opportunity."
Video: BUF@TOR: Matthews lifts backhander past Ullmark
Matthews made it 2-0 at 4:47 of the second period, scoring his 20th goal of the season off a cross-ice pass from Morgan Rielly
Matthews extended the lead to 3-0 at 17:39. He took a pass from William Nylander in the high-slot, skated around Conor Sheary and sent a backhand past a sprawling Ullmark.
They said it
"I felt we didn't really get the forecheck going. I felt like they came out really easy. We didn't get enough pucks deep on them. I felt we could've probably stopped them in our D zone too. We got running around a little bit too much. I thought we kind of did a good job with it in the third. It's a really skilled team obviously and I think that it really starts with the forecheck. If you can't slow them down right away they're really able to come with speed." -- Sabres forward Victor Olofsson
"It's a pretty big honor to be in the same breath as that guy. Obviously his career and what he did here is pretty unbelievable, so to be mentioned in the same sentence as him, it's a pretty big privileged for me." -- forward Auston Matthews on joining Dave Keon as the second player in Maple Leafs history to score 20 or more goals in each of his first four seasons
Need to know
Matthews has five goals in his past five games. … Maple Leafs forward Trevor Moore was expected to return after missing 13 games with a shoulder injury but was a late scratch after taking a bump in practice on Monday and reporting not feeling right on Tuesday. Keefe said he went for concussion protocol and was cleared. … Dahlin has four points (one goal, three assists) in three games since his return from a concussion. It was his first goal since Opening Day.
Sabres: At the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, NBCSP, MSG-B, NHL.TV)
Maple Leafs: At the New York Rangers on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, MSG 2, SNO, NHL.TV)
Video: Matthews' two goals propel Maple Leafs to victory