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Maple Leafs shut out Sabres after changes to lines

by Mike Brophy

TORONTO -- Give Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier full marks for honesty.

Asked if it was the easiest shutout he ever had, a few minutes after the Maple Leafs limited the Buffalo Sabres to 10 shots on goal in a 4-0 victory, Bernier smiled and said, "Probably, yeah."

Bernier got his first shutout of the season and Toronto took 37 shots on goal against Buffalo's Michal Neuvirth.

"I thought it could have been worse," Bernier said. "I thought Neuvirth played outstanding."

The 10 shots allowed by Toronto tied a team record established Jan. 5, 2002 against the Ottawa Senators (a 3-1 win with Curtis Joseph in net).

"I thought we played a very solid game," Bernier said. "We kept everything to the outside. It was probably the best game we have played since I have been here. I've got to give it to the guys; we made some great plays and kept the puck in their zone."

The Maple Leafs were 1-4-0 at home, and coach Randy Carlyle was not happy with the production of his top two lines. Carlyle moved center Nazem Kadri and left wing Joffrey Lupul up to the top line with right wing Phil Kessel and put center Tyler Bozak and left wing James van Riemsdyk with David Clarkson.

Van Riemsdyk, Bozak and Kessel each scored a goal.

"I thought our line in general had some great cycle time and we drew some penalties," van Riemsdyk said. "We're going to get some more chemistry and keep getting better, but I thought it was a good building block for us."

Bozak said, "When things aren't going well, you've got to make changes. Our team wasn't playing well as a group so changes had to be made. I thought they played well and I thought our line sustained a lot of zone time too."

The Maple Leafs outshot the Sabres 17-4 in the first period. Bozak finally beat Neuvirth with a power-play goal with 49 seconds left in the second period when he broke in alone and snapped a shot past him on his glove side.

The goal was scored with Buffalo's Marcus Foligno in the penalty box for kneeing Kadri. After Kadri was hit by Foligno, he hit teammate Dion Phaneuf. Phaneuf limped off the ice and headed directly to the Maple Leafs dressing room but returned to start the third period.

Kessel scored his fifth goal of the season when he took a pass at the side of the net from Mike Santorelli and banked a shot in off Neuvirth's leg at 4:18.

Van Riemsdyk made it 3-0 one minute later when he took a pass from defenseman Morgan Rielly and snapped a shot past Neuvirth, who was unable to slide across to make the save.

Toronto defenseman Jake Gardiner scored midway through the third when he found himself in alone on Neuvirth. Gardiner deked to his left, but Neuvirth followed him perfectly until Gardiner was behind the net. With Neuvirth so far out of the net, Gardiner scooted behind and tucked it in the other side.

"It was nice to get my first one of the year," Gardiner said. "I didn't really see anywhere to shoot so I ended up just skating around the net and it was open. The goalie made a great play and took away the net so I had to bring it around and he was out of the net. I was fortunate."

Buffalo coach Ted Nolan said he thought the Sabres were sluggish, coming off their second win of the season, 2-1 at the San Jose Sharks on the road Saturday.

"Our feet weren't moving and our brains weren't either," Nolan said.

The Sabres are 2-8-0.

"It didn't go our way because we didn't work," defenseman Tyler Myers said. "That was embarrassing top to bottom for our group. We hung our goalie out to dry. He did everything … he battled as much as he could and we didn't give him any help. Something has got to change. This is probably the worst we've had it. Something's got to give here."

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