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Johnson, Sabres edge Maple Leafs in shootout

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- Tyler Ennis and Matt Moulson scored in the shootout and Chad Johnson denied four of five attempts to give the Buffalo Sabres a 2-1 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs at First Niagara Center on Wednesday.

Moulson ended the shootout in the fifth round when he waited out Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier and beat him wide with a wrist shot. Johnson then turned aside Brad Boyes' attempt at a shot through the five-hole that won the game for the Sabres (2-4-0).

"We definitely deserved to win that one," Sabres forward Evander Kane said. "We worked hard for it from the start, got down early but kept battling and were able to get the victory."

The Sabres led the Maple Leafs in shot attempts 61-49.

"We wanted to come out and get a lot of shots on goal," Sabres forward Jack Eichel said. "It took us to almost shot 35 to break them, and we needed that. We're having trouble scoring goals right now. Maybe now we'll get on a roll, and I think this is a team that can do that."

Johnson made 23 saves, including a highlight-reel stop against Maple Leafs (1-3-2) forward Nazem Kadri in overtime.

"I thought he really settled in and the second and third," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "I don't know how many quality scoring chances he had, but he had a few of them he was really strong on, particularly in overtime. The stop against Kadri was excellent. He gave us a chance to win tonight."

This was the first time the Sabres have played an overtime game this season and their first opportunity to play in the 3-on-3 format.

"It's definitely a different situation," Johnson said. "As much as there are chances, it's definitely slower; at a slower pace you can see that. It may be exciting in the aspect that there's a rush that comes the other way, but for me it's just sort of playing it like a summer hockey game. There are turnovers here and there and a lot of chances. I guess those 3-on-3 situations we have practiced have helped."

Kane made it 1-1 with his first goal as a member of the Sabres with 4:29 left in the third period. Kane picked up a turnover from Kadri and took a wrist shot from the half boards that eluded Bernier to his glove side.

Kane had a goal disallowed in the third period against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 8 that would've tied the game. The Sabres lost 3-1.

"It was nice that it wasn't disallowed this time and it stood as a valid goal, which was a good feeling," Kane said.

Kane's goal came in his sixth game with the Sabres. He was acquired by Buffalo in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 11, but did not play last season after he had shoulder surgery. He had a five-hole shot that was denied by Bernier in overtime.

"He's had a lot of chances," Eichel said. "It's early in the season, and it's a long year. We're getting our chances but we need to bear down a little bit more. It's good to see [Kane] get the first one; hopefully it'll open the floodgates for him."

PA Parenteau gave Toronto a 1-0 lead 1:28 into the first period. Parenteau tipped a shot from the blue line from Maple Leafs defenseman Roman Polak past Johnson for his first goal with Toronto. Parenteau also had the Maple Leafs' only goal in the shootout. He signed as an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

"I thought we did lots of good things," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. "We obviously took too many penalties. I don't quite understand, we should have been on the power play four minutes in the third and we weren't at all, so that's disappointing but it's also part of life. I thought our goaltender was really strong, which is real important for us. It gives us a chance moving ahead."

Bernier made 34 saves. In his first three starts of the season, he allowed seven goals in 70 shots, a .900 save percentage and was challenged by Babcock to play better.

"Yeah, [Babcock] challenged me behind the doors too," Bernier said. "That's part of the job. I've got to be better. You've got to take it; you can't take it too personally. He just wants you to be better and I just tried to do my best effort tonight."

Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf received two stitches after a collision with Kane in the third period. Phaneuf was cut near his lip when he was struck by Kane's stick. No penalty was called on the play.

"They didn't see it, so that's about all I've got to say about that," Phaneuf said.

The Sabres are 16-1-1 in their past 18 home games against the Maple Leafs. The home team has won 20 of the past 22 games and 12 straight.

"They've got a lot of skill. Give credit where credit's due," Phaneuf said. "They've got some guys, I think Eichel, he's a young kid but he looks well beyond his years out there. He's a threat when he's got the puck, he's got a long reach and going to be a really good player for a long time. [Ryan] O'Reilly in the middle, he's been around a long time, he's got great hands, real good passer. [Tyler] Ennis, guy's all over the puck. They've got some guns up front. I think you saw their speed.

"Overall we did a lot of good things too in the game, but bottom line they found a way to get an extra point, the shootout goes either way."

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