The Toronto Maple Leafs
haven't given up on making the playoffs.
One night after winning 4-3 in Boston, the Leafs snapped a seven-game losing streak in Buffalo with a 2-1 victory against the Sabres. Joey Crabb's shorthanded goal midway through the third period gave the Leafs their first win in Buffalo since Dec. 12, 2008 -- and just their second win against the Sabres in their last 15 meetings.
Buffalo is 13-5-2 in its last 20 games, but the loss cost the Sabres the chance to move past Carolina into eighth place in the Eastern Conference. The Hurricanes lost 3-2 at New Jersey.
The Leafs moved into 11th place and are within six points of the top eight.
"If there's six to eight weeks left, you just take a point a week," Sabres coach Wilson said. "If you can look at it that way, you can get yourself in.
"Our focus is where it should be. We have a solid work ethic through our team right now and a lot of youthful legs and enthusiasm and it shows."
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff wasn't thrilled with his team's performance.
"I think their energy was better than ours," Ruff said. "They skated a little better than we did. I thought in the second period, they started to take over a little bit, and in the third period, they garnered the chances."
James Reimer stopped 14 shots, allowing only Paul Gaustad's third-period goal, to earn the victory in place of starter Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who spent the final two periods on the bench after sustaining an undisclosed lower body injury.
"It was good. I enjoyed this," Reimer said. "In the back of my mind I was hoping I would get this game. I wanted to prove you could beat this team."
Crabb's first goal since March 2009 and fifth in his NHL career gave Toronto a 2-0 lead at 8:29 of the third period. With Carl Gunnarsson serving a hooking penalty, Crabb burst up the right wing and attempted to get around Buffalo's Jordan Leopold in front of the net. Crabb was bumped by Buffalo's Thomas Vanek, but the hit allowed Crabb to regain his balance and sweep a shot past goalie Ryan Miller, who was leaning to his right.
"I was trying to go far side, and before I knew it, I was back on the strong side and I had the puck with me and just put it in the empty net," he said. "I almost blacked out there," Crabb added with a laugh.
Gaustad cut the Maple Leafs lead to 2-1 by beating Reimer with a bad-angled shot just 1:51 later. But the Leafs held Buffalo to four shots the rest of the way as they improved to 6-2-1 in their last nine games. Toronto, which lost 6-2 at Buffalo 10 days earlier, outshot Buffalo 25-15 over the final two periods and 30-24 for the game.
"It wasn't our night most of the night," Ruff said. "It could have started better if (Tyler) Ennis scored right off the bat (when he hit the crossbar), but we didn't generate a lot. You have to give them credit. They did a pretty good job of stuffing us up, and we didn't get a lot of quality zone time."
Toronto opened the scoring when defenseman Tomas Kaberle set up Phil Kessel's third goal in two nights after a 14-game drought. Kaberle was just inside the blue line and fed a perfect pass into the slot, where Kessel slapped it in.
"We cracked first," said Miller, who Miller stopped 28 of 30 shots one night after his streak of consecutive starts ended at 31. Jhonas Enroth led the Sabres to a 3-2 shootout win at Montreal on Tuesday after Miller was beaten seven times on 26 shots in Sunday's 7-6 OT loss to the Islanders.
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report