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game recap

Maple Leafs win, move up to second in Atlantic

Defeat Sabres for fourth consecutive victory

by Joe Yerdon / NHL.com Correspondent

BUFFALO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs moved into second place in the Atlantic Division with a 4-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Monday.

The Maple Leafs (39-24-15) scored three goals in 43 seconds in the first period, and Frederik Andersen made 20 saves to help them to their fourth straight win.

"We were able to jump on them early, and I thought their goaltender (Anders Nilsson) came in and really played well for them to give them an opportunity, but our guys were able to stick with it and get it done," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said.

 

WATCH: All Maple Leafs vs. Sabres highlights

 

The Maple Leafs lead the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins by one point for second place in the Atlantic Division. Toronto and Ottawa each has a game in hand on Boston.

Leo Komarov put the Maple Leafs up 1-0 4:26 into the game. He received a pass from Nazem Kadri by the far post and tapped the puck past goalie Robin Lehner.

Auston Matthews made it 2-0 when he scored at 5:01. It was his 39th goal, passing Neal Broten of the Minnesota North Stars (1981-82) for most by a United States-born rookie in League history, and his 67th point, passing Peter Ihnacak (1982-1983) for most by a rookie in Maple Leafs history.

"I've played with some pretty good players, so a lot of credit to them," said Matthews, who leads Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets by five goals for the rookie lead. "I think the most important part is, for the team, we've been getting better and better each game, each segment. We're in a good spot right now, and we just want to continue to play well."

James van Riemsdyk scored to make it 3-0 at 5:09.

Video: TOR@BUF: Maple Leafs strike three times in 43 seconds

Buffalo coach Dan Bylsma pulled Lehner after he allowed three goals on five shots.

Nilsson made 39 saves on 40 shots for the Sabres (32-35-12), who have lost three straight games.

Ryan O'Reilly made it 3-1 with a shorthanded goal at 1:51 of the second period. He received a pass from Brian Gionta and skated up the right wing before beating Andersen over his shoulder for his 20th goal.

Nazem Kadri made it 4-1 with a power-play goal at 5:50 of the third period. He received a pass from Mitchell Marner and beat Nilsson through the five-hole for his 31st goal.

Jack Eichel scored his 24th goal on a breakaway with 56 seconds remaining to make it 4-2.

Video: TOR@BUF: Eichel pots backhand goal on breakaway

"I'm just disappointed in myself; I've got to be better, I've got to lead better, I've got to step up, and going forward I've got to expect more out of myself," Eichel said.

Sabres forward Alexander Nylander made his NHL debut after he was recalled from Rochester of the American Hockey League on Monday. Nylander was the No. 8 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, two years after Toronto selected his brother, William Nylander, with the eighth pick.

"You're playing against the best players," the Sabres rookie said. "There [are] a lot of great players out there. You've got to be ready every shift. It was a lot of fun."

 

Goal of the game

Tyler Bozak won a faceoff in the left circle of the Sabres zone over to van Riemsdyk, who beat Lehner with a quick shot from the top of the left hash marks eight seconds after Matthews scored from nearly the same spot.

Video: TOR@BUF: van Riemsdyk finds twine off the faceoff

 

Save of the game

With the Sabres on the power play, Andersen moved over to the right post to get in front of Eichel's shot from below the right faceoff dot at 6:06 of the third period.

 

Highlight of the game

After beating Eichel to a loose puck in the Sabres zone, William Nylander passed to Matthews in the high slot from the right-wing boards for a shot over Lehner's glove from the left hash marks. "It's just another example of what he can do when he gets the puck," Matthews said of Nylander's pass.

Video: TOR@BUF: Matthews breaks two records

 

Unsung performance of the game

Maple Leafs defenseman Nikita Zaitsev had an assist, a plus-1 rating and five blocked shots in 20:47.

 

They said it

"It's a big one. We knew the importance of it coming in. We know what's going on around the League. All the good teams that are usually in it are doing their job and winning games, and now it's up to us to do our job and win games. So to get a big one here tonight is important, and then we've got another big one tomorrow night." -- Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly

 

"This week is going to be huge for us. It's a tough week. We knew on this road trip we could get some points and, obviously, the more, the better… the less we have to force ourselves to get in the last homestand there. We want to keep playing well and keep winning." -- Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen

 

"Guys have got to be accountable to make sure that they're ready to play. We've got to look in the mirror and these next three games make sure that we're coming to compete. Everyone has something to prove the next three games." -- Sabres captain Brian Gionta

 

Need to know

Marner and Nylander each reached 60 points with an assist, joining Matthews with 60 or more points. It's the second time in NHL history a team has had three rookies score 60 or more points (1980-1981 Quebec Nordiques; Dale Hunter, 63, Anton Stastny, 85, and Peter Stastny, 109)… The Maple Leafs finished 19-14-8 on the road. … The Sabres are 6-11-1 in the second game of back-to-back sets.

 

What's next

Maple Leafs: Host the Washington Capitals on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN4, CSN-DC, NHL.TV)

Sabres: Host the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; SN, MSG-B, RDS, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Matthews sets Leafs rookie points record in 4-2 win

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