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game recap

Eichel, Sabres defeat Maple Leafs, hand Keefe first loss as NHL coach

Has two goals, assist; Tavares scores twice for Toronto, which had won three straight

by Heather Engel / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

Eichel tallies on the rush

TOR@BUF: Eichel pots wrist shot on odd-man rush

Jack Eichel skates in with the puck on an odd-man rush and fires it into the back of the net, knotting the score at 2 in the 2nd period

  • 00:40 •

BUFFALO -- Jack Eichel had two goals and an assist for the Buffalo Sabres in a 6-4 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at KeyBank Center on Friday.

Jimmy Vesey had a goal and an assist, and Jeff Skinner, Casey Mittelstadt and Victor Olofsson scored for the Sabres (12-10-4). Linus Ullmark made 25 saves for Buffalo, which had lost five straight games to Toronto (0-4-1).

"It's always fun to win on home ice, and we hadn't beat them in a while, so it's good to get the two points, and I think we needed it as a group as well," said Eichel, who extended his point streak to eight games (eight goals, seven assists). "Good contributions up and down the lineup starting with our goaltender, who I thought played tremendous."

 

[WATCH: All Maple Leafs vs. Sabres highlights]

 

John Tavares had two goals, and Dmytro Timashov and Kasperi Kapanen scored for the Maple Leafs (12-11-4), who lost for the first time in four games under coach Sheldon Keefe. Michael Hutchinson made 30 saves.

Tavares took a pass from Ilya Mikheyev at the bottom of the right face-off circle to give the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead at 18:54 of the first period.

Tavares scored his second of the game to make it 2-0 when he picked up the rebound of his shot off the end boards and tucked it by Ullmark at 1:21 of the second.

"We came out in the first period and play well, played really well, and the third period," Hutchinson said. "I think it shows a lot about our team that were able to make adjustments after the second period and come out and generate a lot of offense in the third period. We came close a bunch of times, one shift late in the third period there where it just felt like the puck is going to go in, but their goalie made some big saves, and it ended up being the difference."

Skinner scored the first of four straight goals by the Sabres in the second period on a wrist shot to make it 2-1 at 5:45.

Video: TOR@BUF: Skinner beats Hutchinson from the circle

Eichel tied it 2-2 at 9:43 off an odd-man rush when he came out of the penalty box, and Mittelstadt put Buffalo ahead 3-2 when he deflected Marco Scandella's point shot at 12:08.

Olofsson scored from the left circle at 18:54 to make it 4-2.

"You got to give some credit to them," Keefe said. "They did do a nice job. ... We knew the neutral zone was going to be hard to get through today, but just how they set up their structure, in all the games we've watched previous to this, other teams have a hard time getting through there, so we thought that'd be a problem for us, but I thought we were in good spots, then just kind of forced one more pass, instead of putting the puck into a better place where we could have gotten after it."

Video: TOR@BUF: Olofsson wires wrister past Hutchinson

Timashov got the Maple Leafs within 4-3 at 6:50 of the third period.

Vesey scored for the third straight game to make it 5-3 at 8:34.

"You play a lot of games, all you can do is show up the next day," said Vesey, who did not score a goal in the first 20 games this season prior to the streak. "I think my mindset has been a lot better this year. It's been positive. The first couple years, I think I beat myself up, but (I) stuck with the process and it's paying off."

Kapanen scored at 12:10 of the third to get the Maple Leafs within 5-4.

Eichel scored into an empty net from his own zone with 27 seconds remaining for the 6-4 final.

Video: TOR@BUF: Vesey steals puck and goes five-hole

 

They said it

"I didn't think really any of our guys had great nights, to be honest. Some of their best people were controlling things out there, and I didn't think we had the same level of play throughout our lineup. I wouldn't single out Auston [Matthews]. I played him a lot early in the game, and that might have hurt us now playing from behind in the second half." -- Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe

"He's a dynamic leader, not only in the way he's communicating right now but also the way he's playing. … He did put one in the empty net, but it was the work he did before that I think that shows Jack is maturing right in front of our eyes. Every day is fun coaching Jack Eichel." -- Sabres coach Ralph Krueger

Video: TOR@BUF: Tavares finishes feed from Mikheyev

 

Need to know

Sabres forward Rasmus Asplund was awarded a penalty shot with less than one second remaining in the game when he was hooked by Maple Leafs defenseman Travis Dermott. His shot was saved by Hutchinson. ... Kapanen leads the Maple Leafs with 13 points (six goals, seven assists) on the road this season.

Video: TOR@BUF: Tavares pots carom off the end boards

 

What's next

Maple Leafs: Host the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; CBC, SN1, SNE, SNO, SNP, MSG-B, NHL.TV)

Sabres: At the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; CBC, SN1, SNE, SNO, SNP, MSG-B, NHL.TV)

Video: Eichel notches three points in win vs. Maple Leafs

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