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Leafs beat clock and Sabres, 4-3

by Chris Ryndak

BUFFALO -- Matt Frattin is making the most of his opportunity with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Frattin scored two goals, including the game-winner with 1.5 seconds remaining in overtime, as the Maple Leafs beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 at First Niagara Center on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old right wing, who's gotten a chance at an NHL job after Joffrey Lupul went down with a broken forearm last week, has three goals and five points in three games after being recalled from the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.

He earned the extra point for the Leafs when he broke down the left wing while being defended by Jordan Leopold, drove to the net and lifted the puck over goaltender Ryan Miller's right shoulder on his short side.

Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf was on the ice for the game-winner, but didn't realize how close the two teams were from going to the shootout.

"I had some idea [of how much time was left], but I had no idea it was that tight," Phaneuf said.

Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle was impressed with Frattin's play and said his recent play echoes what he did to be successful in the AHL last season.

"If you judge his game, it's based upon him taking the body and then he seems to be around the puck a lot more and seems to get chances," Carlyle said.

The win even Toronto's record to 3-3-0 and snapped a two-game losing streak. The Sabres have now lost four in a row after starting the season 2-0-0.

Sabres rookie center Mikhail Grigorenko tied the game at 7:40 of the third period when he scored his first NHL goal. Defenseman Mike Weber took a shot from the point that bounced back into the middle of the ice. Turned away from the net while in a battle with Toronto defenseman John-Michael Liles, Grigorenko reached out for the rebound and threw a backhand shot toward the goal. The shot beat Toronto goaltender James Reimer -- and Grigorenko slid into the corner near the Zamboni entrance to celebrate.

Grigorenko, Buffalo's first pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, learned Tuesday morning that he would not return to his club in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and would instead spend the rest of the season with the Sabres. He said he started to build up some confidence as the third period went on, but losing the game definitely put a damper on the thrill of scoring his first NHL goal.

"I was really excited," Grigorenko said. "It would've been a great night for me. I was really happy I scored a goal and then we lost the game."

Reimer made 29 saves in the win, including a stop on Steve Ott's breakaway late in the second period to preserve a 3-2 lead.

"Reims is playing really solid for us," Phaneuf said. "Last game [a 5-2 loss in New York] we didn't give him much help, but tonight, we needed him whenever there was a breakdown, which happens in the game. No game goes through without a full 60 or 65 without mistakes and he was right there and has been right there."

The Maple Leafs are now 27-58-6-3 all-time in Buffalo, and Phaneuf knows that a Toronto victory in Buffalo is tough to come by.

"We know it's a tough building to play in," Phaneuf said. "We haven't had a lot of success here but it feels good to get the win and now we move forward to Thursday."

Jay McClement opened the scoring for Toronto midway through the first period with his first goal of the season. Nazem Kadri, coming off the bench, wristed a shot on goal from inside the blue line and rang it off the crossbar. The puck ricocheted into the skates of McClement, who was cruising near the top of the crease. McClement controlled the puck and knocked it in past Miller's outstretched right leg.

The goal was the first the Sabres have given up in the opening period this season.

"I thought Jay McClement had his best game as a player on our side so far this year," Carlyle said.

Sabres captain Jason Pominville tied the game on the power play with 5:32 left in the period thanks to some hard work in the crease by his linemate Thomas Vanek. Marcus Foligno put a shot on goal and Reimer kicked it back out into the commotion in the slot caused by Vanek. The puck came to Pominville and to his right, Tyler Ennis tapped his stick on the ice, calling for a pass. Pominville hesitated for only a moment before he took the shot and beat Reimer over his shoulder.

Buffalo took a 2-1 lead 2:28 into the second period thanks to defenseman Andrej Sekera's top-shelf backhand. Sekera made a beeline to the net from the point and Drew Stafford found him with a pass from along the half-wall. Sekera took the puck to his backhand and roofed it over Reimer.

The Maple Leafs tied the game 1:12 later when Frattin cashed in the rebound of a shot from defenseman Cody Franson for his first goal of the night after Miller left a juicy rebound.

It took Toronto another 3:19 and another shot by Franson to regain the lead. With forward Tyler Bozak screening Miller, Franson wristed a low shot from the point that went past Miller's glove.

Franson finished with a goal, an assist and a plus-3 rating.

Miller turned aside 20 shots in the loss.

Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta left the game late in the second period after being drilled from behind by Toronto forward Mike Brown. Brown drew a two-minute boarding penalty on the play and was enticed to fight by Weber. In addition to the fighting major, Weber received a minor penalty for instigating and a 10-minute misconduct.

"Like I said, Webby was going to be ready," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "I thought the minutes he gave us, he gave us quality and you don't mind losing that [power-play opportunity]. On a hit like that, he did the right thing."

Brown played one shift after the fight and did not return to the game with an injury.

Defensemen Robyn Regehr (lower-body injury) and Alexander Sulzer (healthy) and forward Nathan Gerbe were scratched for the Sabres. Weber and defenseman TJ Brennan made their season debuts. Defensemen Mike Komisarek (eye), Jake Gardiner (head/neck) and forward Clarke MacArthur (lacerated finger) were scratched for the Leafs.

Both teams play Thursday. The Sabres travel to Boston to take on the Bruins while Toronto hosts the Washington Capitals.

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