February 25th, 2024

Skinner scores 2 and Sabres respond to embarrassing loss with 9-3 rout of Maple Leafs

By John Wawrow, The Associated Press on December 21, 2023.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) – Jeff Skinner scored twice, including the go-ahead goal, and added an assist, and the Buffalo Sabres responded to their most embarrassing loss of the season with a 9-3 rout of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Tage Thompson also had a goal and two assists and captain Kyle Okposo scored twice, two nights following a 9-4 loss to Columbus when the team was booed off the ice and fans chanted “Fire Donnie” in reference to coach Don Granato. Rasmus Dahlin, Owen Power, Jordan Greenway and Jack Quinn also scored for Buffalo, which won for just the fourth time in 12 outings.

Rookie goalie Devon Levi shook off allowing Auston Matthews’ goal from a bad angle to tie the game at 1, and finished with 25 saves to improve to 4-0-2 in his past eight appearances.

Calle Jarnkrok, with a short-handed goal, and Max Domi also scored for Toronto, which lost consecutive games in regulation for just the second time this season. The Maple Leafs had gone 6-0-3 before a 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday. William Nylander had an assist to extend his point streak to 10 games.

Ilya Samsonov allowed five goals on 19 shots and was pulled after Thompson’s innocent-looking shot from the left point sneaked in off the goalie’s glove. Martin Jones finished, allowing four goals on 16 shots. The nine goals against were the most by Toronto since a 9-2 loss to Nashville on Nov. 18, 2014.

Buffalo opened the scoring before falling behind 2-1, as happened in the first period against Columbus. Rather than giving up seven consecutive goals as they did to the Blue Jackets, the Sabres mustered a response.

Power tied it at 2 by sweeping a shot into an open net, with Samsonov caught out of position when Zach Benson’s pass deflected off a Maple Leafs defender with 6:16 left in the first period.

The Sabres never relinquished the lead after Skinner scored 2:13 later. He beat Samsonov on the glove side while driving to the net after Alex Tuck intercepted Mitchell Marner’s blind pass up the boards.

Buffalo was bolstered by reinforcements. Skinner returned after missing three games with an upper body injury. Greenway returned after missing nine games with an upper body injury. And Quinn was playing just his second game of the season after having surgery in June to repair a torn Achilles tendon.

The Sabres then piled on their cross-border and Atlantic Division rivals by scoring three unanswered goals in the third period.

UP NEXT

Maple Leafs: Play at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.

Sabres: Play at the New York Rangers on Saturday.

___

AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

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