Sabres 5, Maple Leafs 4, SO
Steve Ott has quickly won over blue-collar Buffalo fans with his
hard-hitting, gritty style, and the forward should become even more
popular following a handful of clutch goals.
Ott had the decisive score in the sixth round of the shootout
and the Sabres rallied for a 5-4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs
Two nights earlier, Ott scored twice, including one in overtime,
in a 3-2 win at Montreal. And his shootout attempt against Toronto
was his first since Oct. 25, 2011, and the fifth overall in his
nine-year NHL career.
”I was excited. I’m just glad I was able to go before my
`brother’ Mike Weber,” Ott said with a laugh, referring to
Buffalo’s defensive-minded defenseman.
Interim coach Ron Rolston had plenty of confidence in Ott, whose
role has gradually increased since being acquired in a trade that
sent under-performing center Derek Roy to Dallas last summer.
”He was the guy to go to,” Rolston said. ”He brings a lot of
energy to the team and especially the grit he plays with on a
consistent basis. He can be put out in all situations.”
With the crowd on its feet cheering Ott to the ice, he drove
directly at James Reimer and slipped the puck just inside the right
post. Ryan Miller then sealed the win by getting his left pad out
to stop former Sabres forward Clarke MacArthur.
Christian Ehrhoff had a goal and two assists for Buffalo, which
won consecutive games for only the fourth time this season. Tyler
Ennis had a goal and an assist, and Marcus Foligno and Jason
Pominville also scored.
Miller stopped 30 shots through overtime, and allowed only Tyler
Bozak to score in the tiebreaker.
Nazem Kadri had two goals and an assist for Toronto, which was
unable to build off a 4-2 win over Tampa Bay a day earlier. Bozak
and Mikhail Grabovski also scored in regulation.
Reimer made 32 saves through OT, but allowed two goals in the
shootout, including one to Drew Stafford.
Reimer has allowed four goals in five of seven starts since he
returned after missing eight games with a knee injury, but he said
there was no reason to be concerned.
”When you score four, you should win. But at least we got a
point, which is important,” he said. ”No reason to pull the
alarm, but obviously it’s something we’re aware of.”
And Reimer became confused when asked about the Leafs dropping
to 1-3-3 in their past seven.
”To me, that’s one game over .500, if that make sense,” Reimer
said, laughing. ”I don’t know if it does. Maybe it doesn’t, I
don’t know. Too many pucks to the head.”
Bozak and Kadri scored 76 seconds apart to put the Leafs ahead
2-0 midway through the first period. And Toronto appeared in
control 8:52 into the second, when Grabovski deflected in Jake
Gardiner’s shot from the blue line to make it a 3-1 advantage.
The Sabres responded by scoring the next three, capped by
Ehrhoff’s blast from the blue line 22 seconds into the third.
The Maple Leafs responded six minutes later. Kadri was battling
Buffalo’s Jordan Leopold in front when he managed to deflect in
Cody Franson’s shot from the right circle.
Accustomed to blowing two-goal leads, as Buffalo at Montreal on
Tuesday, the Sabres showed they could overcome them, too.
”We didn’t quit,” Miller said. ”We battled back and got a
lead, which is great.”
The Sabres also didn’t shy away from the Maple Leafs’ physical
Maple Leafs forward Colton Orr was ejected 2:09 in after he
broke his stick in two cross-checking Patrick Kaleta off a
face-off. That sparked a fight between Orr and Kaleta as well as
the teams’ two heavyweights, Buffalo’s John Scott and Toronto’s
And Ott made his presence known by exchanging several shoves
with Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf in the opening minutes.
”We matched size for size, hit for hit,” Ott said. ”That’s
why it was a 4-4 game in a shootout at the end of it all.”
NOTES: The Maple Leafs were without LW Joffrey Lupul, who was
suspended two games by the NHL earlier in the day for an illegal
hit to the head of Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman a day
earlier. … The Sabres were minus leading scorer Thomas Vanek, who
is day to day after being struck by a shot in the right hip in a
3-2 OT win at Montreal on Tuesday. … C Kadri entered the game
with a team-leading 30 points (11 goals, 19 assists) in 30 games.
At 22, he became the team’s youngest player to reach 30 points in
30 games since 22-year-old Ed Olczyk did it in 1988-89.