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Game Recap

A Much-Needed Win

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:47 AM

The Canadian Press

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A Much-Needed Win
Buffalo Sabres 3, Toronto Maple Leafs 4
Three Stars of the Game
Joey Crabb
G: 1Shots: 2
A: 1Hits: 1
PTS: 2PIM: 0
+/-: 2TOI: 19:42
Drew Stafford
Drew Stafford
G: 1Shots: 2
A: 1Hits: 0
PTS: 2PIM: 0
+/-: 1TOI: 20:23
Ben Scrivens
Ben Scrivens
SA: 32TOI: 60:00
GA: 3EV: 21-24
PIM: 0PP: 8-8
SV%: .906SH: 0-0

TORONTO -- The shot of life the Toronto Maple Leafs so badly needed came from the American Hockey League.

Ben Scrivens had nothing to do with a franchise-worst home losing streak that doomed the team's season, but he had a big hand in ending it by making 29 saves in a 4-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.

``This team was maybe a little bit fragile,'' said Scrivens after being named the game's first star. ``I just wanted to try and come in and try to make as many saves as I could and really just give these guys a chance. All the credit goes to these guys, they've had a lot of pressure on them both internally and externally.''

37 Goals on the season for Phil Kessel which is a new career-high.
9 Hits for Tyler Bozak to lead all players.
1 Career win at home for Ben Scrivens.
4 Of Joey Crabb's 18 career NHL goals four are shorthanded.
10-10-2 Leafs' record this season on Saturdays.

It was the first time since Feb. 6 - a span of 11 games - the team celebrated a victory at Air Canada Centre. The ensuing 55 days saw the Leafs plummet from playoff contention, replace coach Ron Wilson with Randy Carlyle and give general manager Brian Burke plenty of reasons to look at making big changes in the off-season.

Scrivens represents an interesting option moving forward.

The 25-year-old spent time with the Leafs in November and has become one of the top AHL goalies since being sent back to the Marlies. He leads that league in goals-against, sits third in save percentage and there is hope he'll be part of a long run in the Calder Cup playoffs.

He did a nice job of handling the heat against a desperate Sabres team, getting a blocker on a 2-on-1 chance by Tyler Ennis early in the third period before stopping another shot in the dying seconds.

``He gave us a chance,'' said Carlyle. ``He stopped a 2-on-1 early in the third period and it kind of rallied everybody.''

Joey Crabb scored shorthanded and added an assist while Phil Kessel, John-Michael Liles and Matt Frattin also had goals for Toronto (34-36-9).

Ennis, Ville Leino and Drew Stafford replied for Buffalo (38-31-10), which saw its playoff hopes dealt a serious blow.

The Sabres now sit two points behind eighth-place Washington in the Eastern Conference with just three games to play. The Capitals hold the tiebreaker so Buffalo has to make up three points in the standings over the final week.

Asked after the game if he had been looking up at the out-of-town scores, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff replied: ``I was looking higher than that - for the big fella to help out.''

Randy Carlyle on what he felt after his first win in Toronto as Leafs head coach:

"Relief ... I think it's more relief for our players than it is actually for a coach but I think it's deserved of the players and they should take the recognition and the accolades that go with it because it's been tough ... it's been tough on everybody. To me, it's about them coming out and finding a way to get it done."

There was a much better atmosphere inside Air Canada Centre than on most Leafs game nights in recent months. Rather than heckling their own team, fans had the chance to derisively chant Ryan Miller's name throughout the third period.

The Sabres goalie didn't allow any soft goals but thought he could have been better.

``We scored some goals tonight, so I didn't need to be perfect,'' said Miller. ``But I needed to make another save or two.''

Playing for the second time in as many nights, Buffalo wasn't able to impose itself on the fragile Leafs. They also couldn't convert on three power-play opportunities.

It was a short-handed goal by Crabb that set the tone for the evening, with the Toronto forward stealing the puck from Andrej Sekera at the blue-line and beating Miller for a lovely breakaway goal at 9:32 of the first period.

That was an important 1-0 lead, especially with Scrivens making just his ninth NHL appearance.

There was very little he could do on the play that saw the Sabres tie the game 1-1. Drew Stafford drove around a defenceman before finding Ennis, who roofed the shot at 10:59 of the second period.

But Kessel restored Toronto's lead less than five minutes later by ripping a shot past Miller for his career-best 37th goal of the season. He was as relieved as any of his teammates after they pulled out the victory.

``It's been a while coming,'' said Kessel. ``I haven't scored in awhile either. It was nice on both ends.''

It ended up being a pretty whirlwind 24 hours for Scrivens, who helped the Marlies register an important overtime victory in Rochester on Friday night before registering the third win of his NHL career on Saturday.

He could be on his way back to the AHL at any moment - Jonas Gustavsson is listed as day-to-day with a bruised knee - but should feel good about the longer-term opportunities that exist within the organization.

``You've got to focus on the task at hand,'' said Scrivens. ``Last night was Rochester, tonight was Buffalo and we'll see what happens tomorrow.''

Notes: Leafs centre Mikhail Grabovski left the game with a leg laceration ... Tyler Myers sat out for the Sabres with a foot injury ... Toronto scratched Cody Franson ... Buffalo called up defencemen Brayden McNabb and T.J. Brennan from the AHL and inserted them into the lineup ... Announced attendance was 19,546.

Tuesday, April 3
  vs. Buffalo Sabres 
7PM ET (Sportsnet, AM640)

The Maple Leafs head down the QEW to close out the home-and-home series. The Leafs will once again look to put a damper on Buffalo's playoff hopes.

The Leafs have yet to win Buffalo this season as they are 0-2-0.

scoring summary
1st Period
SHG - Joey Crabb (11) ASST: NONE
1 - 0 TOR
2nd Period
Tyler Ennis (14) ASST: Drew Stafford (29), Jordan Leopold (14)
1 - 1 Tie
PPG - Phil Kessel (37) ASST: Tyler Bozak (28), Jake Gardiner (22)
2 - 1 TOR
John-Michael Liles (7) ASST: Clarke MacArthur (21), Joey Crabb (14)
3 - 1 TOR
3rd Period
Ville Leino (7) ASST: Jason Pominville (41), Alexander Sulzer (5)
3 - 2 TOR
Matt Frattin (7) ASST: Clarke MacArthur (22), John-Michael Liles (20)
4 - 2 TOR
Drew Stafford (20) ASST: Marcus Foligno (5), Tyler Ennis (18)
4 - 3 TOR
penalty summary
1st Period
Carter Ashton  Hooking against  Marcus Foligno
Mike Brown  Hooking against  Brayden McNabb
2nd Period
Jay Rosehill  Tripping against  Andrej Sekera
Jordan Leopold  Hooking against  Mikhail Grabovski
3rd Period
Thomas Vanek  Holding against  Clarke MacArthur
goalie stats
Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller
SA: 29TOI: 58:59
Saves: 25EV: 23 - 25
PIM: 0PP: 2 - 3
SV%: .862SH: 0 - 1
Ben Scrivens
Ben Scrivens
SA: 32TOI: 60:00
Saves: 29EV: 21 - 24
PIM: 0PP: 8 - 8
SV%: .906SH: 0 - 0
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