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Sharpen Up: March 6, 2018

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

One down. Three (yes, three) to go. The Sabres beat the Maple Leafs 5-3 last night in the first of four games against each other in a five-week stretch. 

Eight Sabres recorded points with Jason Pominville (1+1), Sam Reinhart (1+1), Ryan O'Reilly (1+1), Johan Larsson (1+1) and Rasmus Ristolainen (0+2) each recording multi-point efforts. Chad Johnson was steady in net, stopping 38 shots. 

The Sabres are back at it for practice today (full coverage on the way) and a game against the Calgary Flames at home tomorrow night

Here's what you need to know. 


About last night

Video: Balanced offense leads Sabres past Maple Leafs, 5-3

From the Lexus Postgame Report… 

Jason Pominville said over the weekend that he was intrigued to see if the rivalry between the Buffalo Sabres and the Toronto Maple Leafs would be how he remembered, with some five years having passed since he was last a part of it. 

He got his answer on Monday. Following a game that featured a constant back-and-forth from fans on both sides, a total of eight goals scored and physical play throughout, Pominville smiled at his locker in KeyBank Center.

"Yeah, it hasn't changed," he said. 

Video: Postgame: LARSSON

Apparently, neither has Pominville's knack for scoring against Buffalo's neighbors to the north. He came into the game with 48 points (18+30) in 50 games against the Maple Leafs as a member of the Sabres, and he added two more to that total with a goal and an assist to help lead Buffalo to a 5-3 win.

Video: Postgame: HOUSLEY

"It was really important to get some net-front presence and have a good shot mentality," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. "… We got off to a good start. We started on time against an opponent where we knew they were coming off of three losses. We knew they were going to be hungry and we got that all-important first goal." 

Video: Postgame: JOHNSON

"We didn't blink," Pominville said. "We got a couple bounces go our way, for sure, on a couple goals. But we didn't blink, we kept pushing. … We stuck with it tonight and found a way, which was nice. Lately we've been doing it quite a bit. It's something we've got to build off of."

As it often does, emotion seemed to spill from the stands onto the ice on Monday, resulting in a physical affair. A second period-fight between Ristolainen and Nazem Kadri ended with Ristolainen waving his arms in the air to rile up the crowd.

Video: Postgame: REINHART

"It's tough for us to go through this last little bit, but we're trying to build something," Reinhart said. "We're trying to improve and keep this consistent play going. If we get an atmosphere like this any time, especially on this ice and to be able to put a good product out for them, that's motivation enough for us."

Housley did not have an update on the status of Kyle Criscuolo after the game. The forward, who was recalled from Rochester on Sunday, left the game early in the second period after taking a hard hit into the boards by Matt Martin. 

Criscuolo was fourth on Amerks scoring at the time of the call up. He has 34 points (15+19) through 50 games in the AHL. We'll have our weekly Amerks Update for you later today. 

The Sabres are also without center Evan Rodrigues, who is dealing with a rib injury and has missed the last two contests. 

Video: Postgame: LARSSON

Postgame Notes

Courtesy of @SabresPR

  • The Sabres are now 19-3-1 in their last 23 home games against the Maple Leafs and 70-27-8 at home against Toronto all-time.
  • The win improved the Sabres' record to 6-1-1 in their last eight games against Atlantic Division opponents.


  • Chad Johnson made 38 saves on 41 shots faced, improving to 6-2-0 in his last nine appearances with a .933 save percentage and a 2.05 goals-against average in those contests.


  • With a power-play goal and an assist, Sam Reinhart now has 23 points (9+14) in his last 22 games. He also now has 13 points (5+8) in his last 13 home games.
  • With two points (1+1), Jason Pominville now has 50 points (19+31) in 51 games against the Maple Leafs as a member of the Sabres.
  • With two assists, Rasmus Ristolainen now has six points (1+5) in his last six games.


  • Johan Larsson's two-point night (1+1) gives him nine points (4+5) in eight career games against Toronto, including five points (3+2) in the last three meetings.
  • Ryan O'Reilly logged two points (1+1) and now has 12 points (3+9) in his last 11 games and 21 points (8+13) in his last 16 home games. His four-game point streak (1+4) is tied as his longest streak of the season.


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