Maple Leafs edge Sabres 4-3 in shootout

The Toronto Maple Leafs are finding their comfort zone in the

shootout.

Jonathan Bernier stopped all three Sabres in the tiebreaker to

give Toronto a 4-3 win over Buffalo on Friday night.

It was a Toronto-record fourth straight shootout. The Maple

Leafs split the four and improved to 6-4 this season.

Toronto is tied with Los Angeles with six shootout victories,

behind only Washington’s 10. Five of those wins have come at

home.

Before this season, Toronto was 29-45 in the shootout.

Matt Moulson, Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons all failed to

beat Bernier.

Ryan Miller stopped Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk in the

tiebreaker, but Joffrey Lupul beat him on a nifty backhand.

Steve Ott had scored with 25 seconds left in regulation with the

Leafs trying to kill off a 6-on-4 skating disadvantage. Ott pounced

on a rebound during a scramble and fired the puck in for his fifth

goal.

”That hurt,” Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said.

Jake Gardiner, Peter Holland and Kessel scored second-period

goals to put Toronto ahead 3-2.

It appeared that would be enough for the Leafs’ second

regulation win in 19 games (6-9-4). Toronto was coming off shootout

losses to the Rangers and Red Wings.

Toronto fell behind 2-0 in the first period, but dominated the

rest of the way. Outshot 15-10 in the opening frame, the Maple

Leafs had a 17-5 edge in the second.

”We were like two different hockey clubs,” Carlyle said. ”The

stress level goes up in games like this. We don’t dwell on the

negative (although) we’ll touch base with it. But the positive is

we found a way to regroup and get ourselves back on track.

”We have to play 60 minutes like we played the last two

periods, as closer to it as we possibly can. It’s not easy winning

in the NHL.”

Moulson and John Scott also scored for Buffalo.

”I thought we started off real well, but the second period

shows you how you can get yourself in trouble when you keep turning

the puck over,” interim Buffalo coach Ted Nolan said. ”We turned

it over a number of times.

”If there’s any merit to what we deserved, it’s what we got.

It’s one of those things where we played as bad as we could play

and still get a point. We got what we deserved.”

Scott, a 6-foot-8, 259-pound tough guy, snapped a 164-game goal

drought. But he was in the penalty box when Kessel had the go-ahead

tally in the second.

Both teams had chances in overtime with the Leafs dominating the

final minutes. Miller made huge saves on Van Riemsdyk and Dion

Phaneuf.

Bernier made 32 saves for the Leafs, who outshot Buffalo 42-35

through overtime.

The Sabres had won three of last four and gone 4-4-2 in their

previous 10 games. Toronto was 3-5-2 over the same period.

Buffalo has been woeful on the road, going 3-13-1. No other team

has fewer than six wins.

The Sabres took a 2-0 lead with goals 52 seconds apart.

Moulson scored the opening goal – something the Sabres have only

done eight times this season – after Girgensons, coming out of the

corner, fended off Holland.

Girgensons then sent the puck to the crease where it appeared to

hit Moulson and then Phaneuf. Moulson got credit for his 13th goal

at 7:01.

Bernier then misplayed the puck, and Scott fired it into the

gaping net at 7:53. Playing in his 200th NHL game, Scott doubled

his career goal total to two. His other goal was in November

2009.

Gardiner beat Miller from the blue line at 11:38 of the second

with Van Riemsdyk standing in front of the net. It was Gardiner’s

second goal of the season.

Holland tied it when a falling Raymond send the puck to his

center, who beat Miller for his sixth of the season at 16:25.

Kessel benefited from a nifty pass from Van Riemsdyk and netted

his 18th goal at 19:43.

Miller came in with an impressive 31-15-1 career record against

the Maple Leafs that featured a 2.44 goals-against average and .922

save percentage. Miller has more wins and shutouts (4) against

Toronto than any other team.