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Powerplay Fails Sabres in 3-0 Shutout Loss to Maple Leafs



Toronto Maple Leafs Buffalo Sabres game recap

The Buffalo Sabres went scoreless on six powerplays in their 3-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov was outstanding, turning away all 34 Sabres shots. To pour salt in the wound, the Toronto fans flooded the stands at KeyBank Center to form a primarily Maple Leafs-backed crowd.

The Maple Leafs scored one goal in each period, with John Tavares getting things started in the first. He was left open in the slot and made no mistake with his wrister to beat Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen clean.

Nicholas Robertson scored on a breakaway in the second period, as he slipped past the Buffalo defense in transition.

The final goal was a big one, as Auston Matthews registered his 60th goal of the season. The heavy Leafs contingent gave their star player a standing ovation, with some hats hitting the ice and an M-V-P chant breaking out around the arena.

It’s the second time Matthews has reached 60 goals in his career, making him the ninth player in NHL history to do so.

Impact Players

Samsonov looked calm and poised throughout the entire game. He’s come a long way this season. He struggled early on for the Leafs and was demoted to the AHL. His recall was out of necessity due to injury, and he’s since solidified the starting job again.

Per Evolving-Hockey, Samsonov saved 3.62 goals above expected. That’s a massive one-game number for the Maple Leafs, although the Sabres are no stranger to quality goaltending this season.

As for the Sabres, the players with chances were aplenty. Most notably, JJ Peterka and Dylan Cozens missed glorious opportunities when it looked like Samsonov was down and out.

Buffalo’s top scorers had plenty of chances and gave up plenty of chances, so it will be interesting to see how they fare in tomorrow’s edition of Sabres Grades.

The Difference

The Sabres’ powerplay was abysmal. Going zero for six against the NHL’s 8th-worst penalty kill is not a recipe for success.

To make matters worse, the coaching staff tried nothing different throughout the game. There was no new personnel, no new looks…nothing.

“It’s frustrating when you had the opportunities you had and it’s not going,” head coach Don Granato said.

Alex Tuch had a more direct view regarding the powerplay this season.

“Sucks, honestly. Pretty much all year I could do better. All five of us have got to be better. No excuses, we have to score when we have the opportunities.”

What’s Next

The Sabres play next on Tuesday, as the homestand continues against the Washington Capitals. It’s a game against a playoff bubble team that could’ve meant much more with a couple more wins on the board. The Capitals have crept up the standings and are now third in the Metropolitan Division.