That wasn’t very good. Like, at all. The Toronto Maple Leafs fell 5-2 to the Buffalo Sabres tonight, in a game that many felt would be easier than it actually was.
Toronto’s woes started early in the first period, as Ryan O’Reilly took advantage of a spectacular play by Tyler Ennis to pen the scoring just seven minutes in. Ennis quickly retrieved the puck from the right side of the net, spun around, and made a pass that stumped both Nazem Kadri and Morgan Rielly to give the home (if under-represented in the ground) team the lead. Connor Brown was quick to respond with an unassisted tally two minutes later, but Evander Kane was even quicker to take the lead back for his team, scoring just fifteen seconds after the fact.
The second period started on a sombre note, as Frederik Andersen opted to leave the game after suffering an upper-body injury late in the first. Concern was initially ridden by Auston Matthews scoring his 34th goal of the season on a play that extended William Nylander’s point streak to 11 games less than two and a half minutes into the frame. That was almost as short-lived as the last tie, though; Jack Eichel regained the lead for Buffalo on a powerplay 25 seconds later, and Dmitry Kulikov added another three minutes after that.
For good measure, Eichel potted his second of the game and 23rd of the season ten with seven minutes to go in the second. It was the last goal scored by Buffalo in this game, as Curtis McEhlinney fended off the remaining traffic, but the Leafs weren’t able to take advantage of that to get some goals of their own.
Why The Leafs Lost
Losing Andersen certainly didn’t help, but they were also just not overly great tonight. They fell completely flat in the second period, though penalty trouble certainly didn’t help them.
Connor Brown scores his eighteenth of the year to tie the game at 1-1 pic.twitter.com/NcB55ycpfz
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) March 25, 2017
Connor Brown has proven a lot of people wrong this season, and getting another goal has certainly added to the case. There’s a decent chance that he becomes the fourth rookie on the team to hit 20 games, which is pretty absurd. He also was at the top of team possession tonight, as the Leafs attempted 17 shots with him on the ice at 5 on 5 with only 9 against.
See You Next Time
While the loss stings, Toronto remains in third in the Atlantic Division for now. Their next kick at the can comes on Tuesday, against the Florida Panthers at home. Will the team respond after a rough loss, both last night and in their last game against Florida? Here’s hoping so.