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Wild Finish Sinks Leafs

Tuesday, 03.04.2012 / 11:05 PM / News
Associated Press
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Wild Finish Sinks Leafs
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Derek Roy scored a power-play goal at 3:29 of overtime to cap a frantic comeback that kept the Buffalo Sabres' playoff hopes firmly alive with a 6-5 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night.

Alexander Sulzer had two goals and assist, while Jordan Leopold forced overtime by scoring with 1:53 left in a game the Sabres trailed 3-0 in the first period. Buffalo snapped a two-game skid and pulled even with eighth-place Washington in the Eastern Conference.

Both teams have two games left, though the Capitals hold the tiebreaker edge.

Tyler Bozak had two goals and an assist, Phil Kessel had three assists and Matt Frattin had a goal and assist for Toronto.

Roy's second and decisive goal came on the power-play during a scramble in front, when he got to a loose puck in the slot and snapped it over Ben Scrivens' right shoulder, sparking a wild celebration in Buffalo's home finale.

The goal came with Toronto's Dion Phaneuf in the penalty box for delay of game after his clearing attempt sailed over the boards.

In rallying from a three-goal deficit to win for the first time since a 4-3 overtime win over Atlanta on Jan. 1, 2010, the Sabres twice rallied from two-goal deficits over the final 18:32 of regulation.

After Sulzer cut the deficit to 5-4 with 5:03 left, and Leopold jammed a puck in during a frantic scramble more than 3 minutes later to tie it.

Leopold's goal was remarakable in that referee Mike Hasenfratz, who was parked to the right of the net, never lost sight of the puck to whistle the play dead. Marcus Foligno crashed the net to get the first shot off, and Scrivens was never able to smother it as all 10 skaters crashed and collided at the crease before Leopold somehow poked it in through the crush of bodies.

Tyler Ennis had a goal assist, and Foligno finished with two assists while delivering numerous crushing hits throughout the game.

The Sabres ended a two-game skid, and bounced back from a 4-3 loss at Toronto on Saturday.

After falling behind 3-0 during a sloppy first period, the Sabres cut the lead to 3-2 in the second period on goals by Ennis and Sulzer, while outshooting the Leafs 19-6.

The Maple Leafs took advantage of numerous Sabres miscues in building their three-goal lead before the game was 17 minutes old.

Bozak opened the scoring 6:13 in after Ryan Miller gave up a fat rebound on Kessel's initial shot. Kessel got to the puck at the left of the net, and centred it to Bozak, who was untouched in sweeping the puck in.

Bozak scored 9 minutes later when he was set up in front again by Kessel, after Luke Schenn intercepted Ennis' blind and questionable backhand clearing attempt through the middle.

Frattin then scored by blasting a shot from the right circle into the top corner past Miller, who was screened by teammate Andrej Sekera.

The second period has been the Maple Leafs' worst this season, a 20-minute stretch in which they've now been outscored 97-71.

Foligno was a force the entire game, by flattening one Maple Leaf player after another from the opening whistle. Foligno's hit parade began 12 seconds in with a heavy shoulder-to-shoulder hit on defenceman Carl Gunnarsson behind the Toronto net. He hit him with such force that it knocked Gunnarsson's helmet off.

Gunnarsson went directly to the bench and played one more shift before leaving the game with what the Maple Leafs called an upper-body injury.

Foligno also bowled over Matthew Lombardi and levelled Bozak, which led to a one-sided fight in which Foligno beat up Frattin.

NOTES: Maple Leafs C Mikhail Grabovski did not play after being cut by a skate on Saturday. ... The Sabres went 4-0-1 last April as part of a 16-4-4 run in clinching a playoff spot on the final weekend of the season. ... Sabres D Robyn Regehr appeared in his 900th career game, ranking 19th on the active list among defencemen, while D Andrej Sekera played his 300th, all with Buffalo. ... The Sabres finished their home schedule with a franchise-best attendance average of 18,687, about 450 better than their previous high set in 2009-10. Buffalo sold out 39 of 40 home games this year, not including their season ``home-opener'' at Helsinki, Finland.

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