|Gustavsson in net for the Leafs|
The Sabres started off with a quick goal against the Leafs. The puck was centered from behind the net and it deflected into the back of the net for a 1-0 Sabres lead. The Sabres would add another one just a few minutes later and suddenly the Leafs found themselves down 2-0 just five minutes into the game. Toronto would answer with two goals in the first to take a tie game into the second period but would ultimately lose the game by a score of 3-2.
The second Buffalo goal was awful. It was definitely a save Gustavsson needs to make. Letting in one bad goal is what inevitably cost the Leafs the game tonight and has cost them too many already this season. The Monster did regain his composure as he made a few big saves to keep the Leafs in the game. The game winning goal was scored on a brutal defensive brain-fart as both Luke Schenn and Carl Gunnarsson were caught watching the puck instead of covering a man. The Sabres set up a cross-ice pass from the boards to the front of the net for an easy goal.
The Leafs controlled the play for good portions of the game, but their inability to capitalize or even generate quality chances on the power play killed their own momentum. On the plus side they only took two penalties and killed them both off. So the Leafs PK is still perfect in the new year through five games.
On the plus side, I really liked the Buffalo arena. This was my first Leaf game in Buffalo and I really enjoyed myself. The seats were great and the arena was packed with as many Leaf fans as Sabres fans. The constant struggle of cheers from opposing fans made the game much more entertaining. The atmosphere was amazing.
Nazem Kadri didn't impress today. He did showcase his good hands, which he normally does, and controlled the puck as well as made a few shifty dekes to gain some space. The recurring problem, which may have been his biggest problem in previous seasons, is that he turned the puck over soon after and didn't manage a scoring chance. He also didn't make a conscious effort to hustle to get back into the play defensively. I had hopes that Kadri was a different player this season, and I won't sell him off just because of one game, but if he continues to play like this he won't have much success in the NHL.
Grabovski was by far the best Leaf on the ice. He scored a goal and added an assist in the first period to help the Leafs back in to a game that seemed to be getting away from them early. Phil Kessel's line looked average, Kessel still had great speed through the neutral zone but was unable to convert it into many scoring chances.
The Leafs head back to Toronto to host the New York Rangers tomorrow night. With the Capitals and Penguins winning, the Leafs find themselves barely hanging on to a playoff spot. They are just one point ahead of both of those teams.