Overreactions, 80th Edition: Good thing the Leafs are awful, or this could’ve sucked.

It can’t ever be easy, can it?

Backs against the wall, playoff hopes on the line, hated rival in town, coming off a tough loss with chances to stay in the playoff picture fading faster than a Luke Schenn tee-shot, the Sabres were guaranteed to come out strong and make a statement.

There’s no guarantees, apparently. But who gives a shit if they come through at the end, right?

Spotting the clubhouse-bound Maple Leafs a 3-0 lead, the Buffalo Sabres made the most rousing of rousing comebacks, fighting back for a 6-5 overtime win. Derek Roy scored the game winner on a powerplay at 3:29 of overtime to tie Buffalo with Washington at 88 points for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

An epic goal by Jordan Leopold with 1:53 remaining in regulation tied the game at five, erasing a two goal deficit in the final ten minutes.

“Today was one of those days where we could’ve found ourselves losing that game 5-0,” Leopold said. “It didn’t work out that way, because we decided to dig in and push it all the way.”

Alexander Sulzer scored twice, Roy added another and Tyler Ennis also scored for Buffalo, who at one point or another, trailed 3-0, 4-2 and 5-3 before sending it to overtime.

Ryan Miller, despite the five goals allowed on the statline, made several phenomenal saves in stopping 20 of 25 shots he faced to get the win.

Buffalo’s scant playoff prospects remain alive until Thursday, when a matchup with the Flyers in Philadelphia and a Florida/Washington battle await. Until then…

…Wow.

  • In the final 43:29 of the game (second, third, and overtime periods) Buffalo outshot Toronto 36-12. It shouldn’t have been as close as it was.
  • Marcus Foligno, the well deserved first star of the night, was an absolute force. Throwing huge hits, dropping the gloves, picking up assists and overall being a pain-in-the-ass for the Leafs. And remember, there was a debate over whether the team made a mistake giving up on Zack Kassian.
  • Alexander Sulzer came to the Sabres with the following career totals: 74 games played. One goal. Seven assists. In 15 games with Buffalo, three goals, five assists and a good chance to get a nice contract this offseason.
  • Big ups to Derek Roy for coming through on the powerplay. The third goal (his first) was a very smart shot that found its way in. He aggressively put himself in the right spot on the winner. A good night for the guy.
  • Toronto fans were incredibly well-behaved. They were content with the early lead. Unsurprised by the collapse. Disappointed by the end. It’s been worse, before.
  • Sulzer’s beautiful pass to Ennis for the first Buffalo goal was quietly smooth. Gorgeous look right there.
  • The Leafs were obviously unhappy with the way the tying goal happened, but for the rare occasion, you can credit the officiating for making that kind of decision and doing things by the book. Puck was never covered by Scrivens. Even if it had been covered by someone else, that’s a penalty shot. He saw the puck, play continued, and no amount of sprawling bodies could keep it out.
  • Nathan Gerbe made his return to the lineup, and looked awful in the first period. His diving play to try to break up a pass in the Sabres zone led to the second goal. If he stays on his feet and collapses, the defense doesn’t leave Miller hung out to dry. Unacceptable. Gerbe’s had an awful season, whether it’s related to injuries or not.
  • With Gerbe returning, Lindy Ruff went with Cody McCormick over Brad Boyes. Not sure that was the right decision. Boyes isn’t an offensive force, but he can contribute. When they needed goals, having to roll three lines didn’t help.
  • Brayden McNabb had a very nice game after a rough outing the other night.
  • I give Andrej Sekera a lot of credit in these posts, but I’m required to point out he wasn’t good at all for the first 40+ minutes of the game. As the team got more desperate to tie the game, he stepped his game up, and made some nice plays in the offensive zone to aid rushes. Without Ehrhoff and Myers, he can’t be bad. They can’t afford to worry about him.
  • The Sabres just gave up nine goals in two games to Toronto. The Sabres’ defense has been as strong as a NASCAR fan’s SAT scores without Ehrhoff. With Philadelphia and Boston awaiting, the offense needs to produce. Big time.
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Posted on April 4, 2012, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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