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Maple Leafs beat Sabres in shootout

by Joe Yerdon

TORONTO -- Phil Kessel had a goal and an assist in regulation and Joffrey Lupul scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 4-3 win against the Buffalo Sabres at Air Canada Centre on Friday night.

Lupul beat Ryan Miller with a backhander inside the left post to start the second round. Buffalo's Tyler Ennis followed by hitting the post and Zemgus Girgensons slid a backhander wide of the net in the third round to give the Maple Leafs the win.

"That's the thing with shootouts, you have highs and lows and at the end of the day you're still getting a point," Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier said. "Last time we played I didn't get the win, so this one feels pretty good."

Toronto has played four consecutive shootouts, winning two.

"It's not easy winning in the NHL, it proves it night in and night out," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "There are a lot of shootouts taking place. We're at four in a row now. …I think we've won two and lost two in the last four. Do we like shootouts? No."

The Sabres blew an early 2-0 lead but forced overtime when Steve Ott scored off a power-play scramble with 24 seconds left in regulation.

Matt Moulson gave the Sabres 1-0 lead 7:01 into the first period. Moulson scored on a rebound after Girgensons drove to the net; his shot bounced off Bernier to Moulson, who put the puck between his pads.

John Scott made it 2-0 by scoring his first goal in more than four years 52 seconds after Moulson's goal. Scott, playing in his 200th career game, picked up the rebound of Matt Ellis' shot and beat Bernier with a snap shot for his second career goal and first since Nov. 15, 2009.

"They were kind of hoping I get one the next few games," Scott said. "It's been a long time, so to get one tonight for the guys, especially against a rival, Toronto, it was a nice goal. …I seem to do some special stuff in this building."

But Toronto turned the game around by scoring three times in the latter half of the second period.

Jake Gardiner made it 2-1 when he scored at 11:38, beating Miller to the glove side with a slap shot from the blue line for his second of the season.

Peter Holland's sixth goal of the season tied the game 2-2 at 16:25, firing a loose puck past Miller during a delayed penalty.

"Mason [Raymond] did a great job," Holland said. "He got in hard on the forecheck and a second opportunity there when he got tripped he drew a penalty and managed to get that out to me."

The Maple Leafs took a 3-2 lead with 17 seconds left in the second when Kessel scored a power-play goal. James van Riemsdyk collected a rebound of Dion Phaneuf's shot from the point and found Kessel driving the net; he beat Miller for his 18th of the season.

"We've played together now a couple years," Kessel said of van Riemsdyk. "I think we're used to knowing where each other is and where each other goes."

The Maple Leafs outshot the Sabres 17-5 in the second period.

"That was one of the worst periods we've played all year," Moulson said. "Obviously, they took advantage of that."

Buffalo tied the game late after Phaneuf was called for hooking with 51 seconds to play in regulation and gave the Sabres a power play. With Miller on the bench for a sixth attacker, giving Buffalo a 6-on-4 advantage, Bernier lost track of Tyler Myers' shot in the crease and Ott shoveled it home to send the game to overtime.

"That's an awful feeling to be in the box at that time of the game," Phaneuf said. "When they scored that goal, there's not much lower you can go than that when you're in the box and you put your team down. I'm just extremely happy we got the extra point in the shootout."

The Maple Leafs host the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday night. The Sabres are at home against the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon.

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