Published January 13, 2012
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Jason Pominville scored the go-ahead goal with 5:47 left in the second period, and the Buffalo Sabres held on for a 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night.
Paul Gaustad had a goal and an assist, Matt Ellis also scored and Patrick Kaleta had two assists for the Sabres. Ryan Miller made 24 saves in helping Buffalo snap a three-game winless skid (0-2-1) and get their third victory in 12 games (3-7-2).
Mikhail Grabovski had a goal and assist and Joey Crabb also scored for the Maple Leafs, who blew a chance to move eight games over .500 since closing the 2006-07 season at 40-31-11, according to STATS LLC. They also snapped a four-game winning streak, failing to get their first five-game streak since Jan. 27 to Feb. 6, 2007.
Despite coming off a 2-0 win over the Sabres at home on Tuesday, the Maple Leafs have had little fortune in Buffalo, where they dropped to 1-8-1 in their past 10 visits.
Thomas Vanek made a nifty pass to set up Pominville's go-ahead goal that broke a 2-2 tie. Vanek chased down a loose puck at the right boards and drove down to the red line before flipping a pass through the crease, past two defenders. The puck bounced directly onto Pominville's stick, allowing him to snap it into the open right side before goalie Jonas Gustavsson could get across.
The goal was the captain's 15th of the season. Pominville and Vanek — Buffalo's only consistent producers — have now combined to score 12 of the Sabres' 34 goals the last 16 games.
Buffalo got three goals for the first time in four games, and after being shutout by Gustavsson on Tuesday.
The Sabres got off to a quick start, building a 2-0 lead on consecutive shots and before the game reached the 4-minute mark. Ellis had his backhand centering pass from behind the net bank in off the skate of Leafs defenseman Cody Franson. Then Gaustad scored by snapping a shot from the right circle through the legs of Carl Gunnarsson, and handcuffing Gustavsson.
The Maple Leafs responded later in the period by tying the game on goals scored 2:46 apart.
Luke Schenn's shot from the point went wide of the net, but the puck caromed off the end boards directly to Grabovski, who one-timed it in.
Toronto tied the game with 3:08 left in the first period on a big miscue by Sabres defenseman Mike Weber, who fell and lost the puck in front of the Buffalo net while trying to avoid Nikolai Kulemin's forecheck. Laying helplessly on his stomach, Weber was unable to sweep away the puck.
Grabovski got to the puck and waited patiently in the right circle before feeding a pass into the high slot, where Crabb one-timed it in.
NOTES: Sabres C Derek Roy returned after missing two games with a shoulder injury. .... The Sabres embark on a seven-game road trip that opens at the Islanders on Saturday. Buffalo has lost seven straight road games in regulation to match a franchise worst. ... Sabres owner Terry Pegula said the team's hands are tied regarding a dispute between Time-Warner Cable and MSG Network that's blacked out Sabres games indefinitely. "You know, we can't do anything. All we can do is hope they settle it," Pegula said, noting the team can't get out of its deal with MSG. ... The Leafs head back across the border to host the Rangers on Saturday in kicking off a five-game homestand. ... Sabres rookie D Brayden McNabb did not return after leaving the game with about 12 minutes left. The team had no update on his status.