Eichel, Sabres defeat Maple Leafs, hand Keefe first loss as NHL coach
Jack Eichel had two goals and an assist to help the Buffalo Sabres to a 6-4 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at KeyBank Center on Friday.
Jimmy Vesey had a goal and an assist, and Jeff Skinner, Casey Mittelstadt and Victor Olofsson scored for the Sabres (12-10-4). Linus Ullmark made 25 saves for Buffalo, which had lost five straight games to Toronto (0-4-1).
“It’s always fun to win on home ice and we hadn’t beat them in a while so it’s good to get the two points and I think we needed it as a group as well,” said Eichel, who extended his point streak to eight games (eight goals, seven assists). “Good contributions up and down the lineup starting with our goaltender, who I thought played tremendous.”
John Tavares had two goals, and Dmytro Timashov and Kasperi Kapanen scored for the Maple Leafs (12-11-4), who lost for the first time in four games under coach Sheldon Keefe. Michael Hutchinson made 30 saves.
Tavares took a pass from Ilya Mikheyev at the bottom of the right circle to give the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead at 18:54 of the first period.
Tavares scored his second of the game to make it 2-0 when he picked up the rebound of his shot off the end boards and tucked it by Ullmark at 1:21 of the second.
“We came out in the first period and play well, played really well, and the third period,” Hutchinson said. “I think it shows a lot about our team that were able to make adjustments after the second period and come out and generate a lot of offense in the third period. We came close a bunch of times, one shift late in the third period there where it just felt like the puck is going to go in, but their goalie made some big saves and it ended up being the difference.”
They said it
“I didn’t think really any of our guys had great nights to be honest. Some of their best people were controlling things out there and I didn’t think we had the same level of play throughout our lineup, I wouldn’t single out Auston. I played him a lot early in the game and that might have hurt us now playing from behind in the second half.” — Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe, on Auston Matthews
“He’s a dynamic leader, not only in the way he’s communicating right now but also the way he’s playing. … He did put one in the empty net but it was the work he did before that I think that shows Jack is maturing right in front of our eyes. Every day is fun coaching Jack Eichel.” — Sabres coach Ralph Krueger
Need to know
Sabres forward Rasmus Asplund was awarded a penalty shot with less than one second remaining in the game when he was hooked by Maple Leafs defenseman Travis Dermott. His shot was stopped by Hutchinson. … Kapanen leads the Maple Leafs with 13 points (six goals, seven assists) on the road this season.
Maple Leafs: Host the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; CBC, SN1, SNE, SNO, SNP, MSG-B, NHL.TV)
Sabres: At the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; CBC, SN1, SNE, SNO, SNP, MSG-B, NHL.TV)