Northeast: Dramatic finish keeps Sabres playoff hopes alive

By John-Eric Iannicello

Photo: Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno was a thorn in the side of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Sabres 6-5 overtime win on Tuesday (courtesy of

Jerome Davis/Icon SMI)

After falling behind 3-0 to the Maple Leafs in the first period, it looked like the Buffalo Sabers were in for a rough night.

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

A second period surge of 19 shots by the Sabres saw them crawl back to 3-2 heading into what would be a wild third period. The Sabres ended up throwing 45 shots at the Maple Leafs net after mustering only 9 shots in period one.

A mad scramble in the Maple Leafs crease late in the third period saw defenseman Jordan Leopold poke a puck through a maze of bodies and past netminder Ben Scrivens to tie the game at 5 apiece. Derek Roy scored a power play goal in overtime to seal the 6-5 win for the Sabres.

"It’s one win, but it gives us some momentum," Leopold said. "It was one of those games where I think everybody in the stands and media was waiting for that one to turn out worse than it ended up being. For us, we pulled together and found a way to win."

Leopold’s goal came with some controversy as it looked like the puck had gone out of sight, but the play continued on without a whistle.

“I think I said early in the year when we had a quick whistle, that it all evens out,” said head coach Lindy Ruff to “It finally evened out … It was early in the year, and I said ‘
hopefully those will even out. And maybe that was the referee that blew it quick.”

The Sabres victory couldnt have come at a better time. The club had fallen into 9th spot and hadnt won in two games heading into the final three games of the season. As of Wednesday morning, the Sabres sit tied with the Washington Capitals at 88 points apiece. Each team has two games remaining in their schedules.

“All the work we put in throughout the season and towards the end of the season when everyone counted us out, we just have to keep working,” Derek Roy also told postgame. “Even tonight with people counting us out, probably in the third, you just keep going. It’
s the guys in this dressing room and were all here and its good and were all going to do it.”

The Sabres schedule doesnt get any easier in their final two games. The team will finish their season on the road with games in Philadelphia on Thursday and Boston on Saturday.

Northeast Division Notes

Boston Bruins Defenseman Johnny Boychuk left the third period of Tuesday s game with a lower body injury. Recently signed rookie defenseman Torey Krug made his NHL debut on Tuesday. He played 18 minutes in his debut. Milan Lucic recorded his second straight 25-goal, 60-point season. Defenseman Adam McQuaid (laceration above his eye) sat for his third straight game for precautionary purposes.

Buffalo Sabres
Defenseman Robyn Regehr played in his 900th career NHL game on Tuesday. Fellow defenseman Andrej Sekera also hit a career milestone playing in his 300th NHL game. The club announced the signing of two prospects to entry-level deals on Tuesday. Former Miami University goaltender Connor Knapp, 21, signed a two-year deal, while forward Owen Sound Attack forward Daniel Catenacci, 19, signed a three-year deal.

Montreal Canadiens
The Canadiens recalled goaltender Robert Mayer and forward Gabriel Dumont from Hamilton (AHL) on Tuesday. Yannick Weber will be out for the remainder of the season with a leg injury. Carey Price could also be out the remainder of the season with headaches. Hes scheduled to be examined by team doctors today to determine the extent of his injury. The Canadiens will host the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight in Montreal.

Ottawa Senators
Defenseman Sergei Gonchar sat out with a minor lower-body injury on Tuesday. Goaltender Ben Bishop (lower body injury) skated with the team for the first time since March 24th. Forward Kyle Turris has four points in his past two games, while Daniel Alfredsson continues to ride his hot streak of nine points in his last four games. Jason Spezza
s 33rd goal last night is one away from his career high of 34 that he set in 2006-07.

Toronto Maple Leafs
Clarke MacArthur
s 20th goal of the season last night is the second season in a row that the forward has scored 20 goals. Phil Kessel eclipsed the 80-point mark for the first time in his career. Kessels 81st point of the season is the highest point total for a Maple Leaf since Mats Sundin scored 83 points in the 1998-99 season. Matt Frattin recorded his first career Gordie Howe hat trick against the Sabres on Tuesday. Carl Gunnarsson left Tuesdays game with an upper body injury after getting blasted by forward Marcus Foligno of the Sabres.