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Sabres' offensive eruption buries Maple Leafs

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres made their first home win in regulation this season an emphatic one and snapped a losing streak in doing so.

Zemgus Girgensons scored two goals, Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis had three points each and the Sabres had their biggest offensive night of the season in a 6-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at First Niagara Center on Saturday.

The Sabres (4-13-2), who hadn't scored more than three non-shootout goals in any game this season, ended a five-game losing streak. Buffalo is 14-1-1 in its past 16 home games against the Maple Leafs.

"We've had a tough season and it's hard enough when you don't win games, but today was absolutely different how we played," Girgensons said. "Ten times better than what we've done."

This was Buffalo's biggest offensive output since Jan. 31, 2013, when they beat the Boston Bruins 7-4.

"I can't remember the last time we put up six goals, so it felt great," Ennis said. "Everyone chipped in, everyone played well."

Girgensons scored a shorthanded goal with 1:27 left in the first period to make it 2-0 and a breakaway goal at 4:42 of the third period to complete the scoring.

On his first goal, Girgensons was set up by Brian Flynn, who beat Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer to a loose puck in the Toronto zone. Flynn fed Girgensons, who buried a shot with Reimer still out of position for his fifth goal of the season.

"It's a play where I sometimes come out and see if I get the puck and I don't know what happened there," Reimer said. "It felt like maybe the puck slowed down a bit, but I couldn't get out there and I couldn't get back in."

Girgensons' second goal came when he got behind Maple Leafs defensemen Dion Phaneuf and Cody Franson, then deked and beat Reimer with a backhander.

"He's fast," Ennis said. "It's more; he's driven. He's going to take it to the net no matter what. It doesn't matter who's chasing him, he's going to get it there. A lot of times you see him kind of have one hand on the stick and he outmuscles someone off the puck and then he's gone on a breakaway. It's fun to watch."

It was a tough weekend for Toronto (9-7-2), which lost 2-1 at home to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

"That's two games back to back that I felt we didn't get the desired effort or anywhere near the commitment to playing our system and doing what we need to do to be successful," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said.

The Sabres led 3-0 on goals by Ennis, Girgensons, and Drew Stafford before Toronto's David Clarkson scored with 1:19 left in the second period. Clarkson tipped Cody Franson's shot past Sabres goalie Michal Neuvirth. Franson extended his point-scoring streak to seven games with the assist.

Moulson scored his second of the season 16 seconds later to make it 4-1, finishing off a pass from Ennis on a 2-on-1. Toronto got that goal back 44 seconds later when Phil Kessel scored his 11th of the season with a wrist shot from the right circle that beat Neuvirth through the five-hole.

"I thought we started the game really well, got some goals and that second period they ended up scoring a couple and we didn't hang our heads," Moulson said. "We came right back at it and were able to get a couple of our own. I don't think we stopped going out there and that's what you have to do to win in this League."

Buffalo's top line of Ennis, Moulson and Girgensons had four of Buffalo's six goals.

"They kind of know where each other are, and they are three very talented players who are starting to jell a little bit," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said.

Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers made it 5-2 at 1:10 of the third period with his first goal of the season. Myers swept the puck over the line after a shot by Moulson got through Reimer's pads.

"I think it just goes to show you go to the net, good things happen," Myers said. "I thought all of our forwards tonight were driving the net well. I thought any time we got a shot we had a better net front presence than we have all year. We have to continue that."

Neuvirth made 32 saves; Reimer stopped 29 shots.

"We didn't play very well," Carlyle said. "I'm very disappointed in the way we played. I'm very frustrated with the way we played. Other than that, I don't know what else to tell you."

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