Tyler Myers is having a lot of fun in his first NHL season. So are the Buffalo Sabres -- especially when the Toronto Maple Leafs are the opponent
The 19-year old defenseman scored two of Buffalo's three power-play goals and assisted on the other in the Sabres' 3-2 victory over Toronto on Friday night -- their sixth win in a row overall and 10th consecutive victory over the Leafs.
"I'm having the time of my life," said Myers, now second among NHL rookies with 26 points. "I was trying pretty hard for that third one, but more importantly we got the win."
Tim Kennedy had the Sabres' other goal and Ryan Miller made an early three-goal lead stand up with a career-high 48 saves. Toronto, which came into the game last in the NHL in penalty-killing, got third-period goals from Matt Stajan and John Mitchell. But that wasn't enough to keep the Leafs from losing for the fourth time in five games.
Miller has been in goal for all 10 wins over the Leafs.
"I really don't like them. They're a rival and they're in our division," he said. "They constantly talk about how they're going to rough me up every night. I love nothing more than to get a win against them and send them an hour-and-a-half on their way."
In the season series, which only has an April 1 meeting in Toronto remaining, Miller has a goals-against average of 1.58 and a .960 save percentage.
Myers, Buffalo's first-round pick in the 2008 Entry Draft, got both of his goals from close range.. On the first, which gave the Sabres a 2-0 lead at 17:39 of the first period, Myers pinched in and took a nice cross-crease pass from Thomas Vanek before beating Vesa Toskala. He made it 3-0 at 7:30 of the second by banging in a feed from Tim Connolly.
Myers became the first Sabres defenseman with a multigoal game since Jaroslav Spacek scored twice at Philadelphia last Feb. 19.
"They're giving me the green light to jump up whenever we have the opportunity," Myers said. "We're moving the puck quickly and more importantly getting the puck to the net."
Kennedy opened the scoring 1:27 before Myers' first goal, wristing a shot past Toskala's short side. Buffalo's first two goals came after Toronto's Rickard Wallin was assessed a double-minor for high-sticking Connolly.
"We gave ourselves a chance in the first period before we took the four-minute penalty," Mitchell added. "Our penalty kill, it killed us obviously."
Before that, Miller's heroics kept the game scoreless as Toronto failed on its first three power plays -- the last one coming after Miller was called for roughing Stajan after a goal-crease battle.
"Special teams, right now, that's all we talk about before the game," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said after the Sabres went 3-for-3 on the power play and killed off all four Leafs power plays. "I think we're a little bit psyched out."
Mitchell's goal with 2:43 left got Toronto within one, but Miller made four stops after Toronto pulled Toskala for an extra attacker.
"I have a lot of comfort in a close game," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "But the last 10 minutes, I can pick six or seven individuals who turned the puck over for no reason. ... Our goaltending made a couple of big saves to help preserve the win."