Preseason Overreactions: Visiting Leafs defeat Sabres in surprisingly entertaining exhibition

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.45.41 PMNothing better than a Friday night game featuring two regional rivals, right? Maybe not for the 3,000-ish fans who probably ate their tickets and didn’t come to First Niagara Center, but for everyone who came to see some hockey, it was a treat.

Beginning a home-and-home set in Buffalo, the Toronto Maple Leafs knocked off the Sabres in a very heated preseason tilt by a score of 6-4.

Sabres goaltender Michal Neuvirth had an awful game, surrendering four goals on his first seven shots against and struggling on his way to the loss. In his first action of the preseason, Neuvirth finished with 16 saves.

“I was having a tough time finding the puck tonight,” Neuvirth said after the game.

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The game was noticeably chippy, as three-ish fights broke out (not sure Tyler Myers and Toronto’s Sam Carrick going at it really counted) as Drew Stafford, Chris Stewart and Cody McCormick all picked up majors for fisticuffs.

Buffalo’s offense did have some life, most notably the stick of Chris Stewart, who tallied twice in the first period. The Sabres also got goals from Jake McCabe and Cody McCormick, but they trailed for the final 44:39 of the game.

James Reimer made 34 saves for the Leafs, as these two teams meet again on Sunday at Air Canada Centre.

  • Safe to bet that Jhonas Enroth has a good chance to roll into the season as the team’s starting goaltender. Just a thought.
  • Hell of a game out of Chris Stewart. His backhand goal early was fantastic, a great shot from that position. If he shows he can be a solid power forward for this team, that’ll be great for when they deal him before the deadline.
  • Was honestly surprised at how few Leafs fans were in attendance. Friday night, cheap tickets… what’s the excuse? Traffic?
  • Tim Schaller made his quasi-debut for the Sabres, and he probably earned himself a recall at some point during the season. Numbers game may force him out to start the season, but he’s the kind of guy Ted Nolan is going to adore.

  • Sam Reinhart was relatively unremarkable. No points, some smart plays, but not overly impressive. Not even sure he’ll get a full nine games to earn a spot. It’ll be fun watching him light it up at the World Juniors.
  • Jake McCabe may have been the Sabres’ best defenseman tonight. It certainly wasn’t Mike Weber, that’s for damn sure.
  • For the second game in a row, the Sabres did a fun contest during a television timeout. Last game it was puck matching, tonight it was digging pucks out of an ice bucket. Creative and entertaining. I’m actually thinking they may be turning the ship around in game presentation. Music selections aside.
  • Nikita Zadorov had a really rough game. Not so much in his play, but he got blindsided by Toronto’s Sam Carrick in the first period and took another headshot later in the game. He looked shaky. There’s no rush to keep him up. He’s going back to London, it’s just a matter of when.
  • Brian Flynn, two assists. What a guy.

3MI Three Star Selections 
1. Tyler Bozak, Toronto
2. Chris Stewart, Buffalo
3. Leo Komarov, Toronto

Official Three Stars of the Game
1. Tyler Bozak, Toronto (Goal (1), 2 assists)
2. Chris Stewart, Buffalo (2 goals (2))
3. Roman Polak, Toronto (Goal (1), 2 assists)

Quote of the night:

“I wasn’t really used to seeing all the Leafs fans in the building. That was a bit of a shock.” — Buffalo Sabres forward Chris Stewart

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Posted on September 26, 2014, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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