for this game

Miller, Sabres too much for Maple Leafs

Mar 4, 2007 - 5:32 AM
TORONTO (Ticker) -- Darcy Tucker's return did not provide the inspiration the Toronto Maple Leafs needed.

Rookie Drew Stafford extended his points streak to five games with a goal and Ryan Miller made 26 saves as the league-leading Buffalo Sabres posted a 3-1 victory over the Maple Leafs.

One day after losing All-Star defenseman Tomas Kaberle to a head injury, Toronto received an emotional boost with the return of Tucker, who missed the previous 24 games with a foot injury.

"More than anything, it was just nice to be back in the dressing room with the guys," Tucker said. "I'm really disappointed that we lost one of our better players and leaders (in Kaberle), and I thought it was important to help the guys in back-to-back nights. Maybe a fresh face and some energy would help."

However, the Maple Leafs did not carry it onto the ice, as the Sabres jumped to a 2-0 lead in the second period and never looked back.

After a scoreless opening session, defenseman Toni Lydman scored his second goal of the season less than five minutes into the second to put Buffalo ahead. Stafford doubled the advantage with two minutes to go in the period with his sixth tally of the campaign and third in as many games.

"I'm playing with some great players and I'm going to do my best to take advantage of it because that's just how I am," Stafford said. "I'm a competitive guy and I'm getting this chance. This is where I want to be."

"He's definitely made a case for staying in the NHL," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "He has played very sound. He's been very reliable and scored some timely goals. He's been a very good player for us."

Goalless in his first 49 career contests, including one in 2005-06, Nathan Paetsch made it a 3-0 bulge late in the third with his first tally.

"It kind of was a monkey off my back, and it's nice to get it off there," Paetsch said.

All that was left was Miller's quest for his second shutout of the season, which ended quickly as Nik Antropov broke through 32 seconds after Paetsch's goal to get Toronto on the board.

"We had two or three really great chances on the first power play that didn't go in," Toronto coach Paul Maurice said. "We missed the net an awful lot tonight. I thought we faced a goaltender that made us change, a little bit, the way we shoot the puck. He made some great saves and played very well."

Miller stopped the first 25 shots he faced - including 11 in the second period - for the Sabres (44-16-5), who improved to 32-0-0 when holding a two-goal lead and moved one point ahead of the Nashville Predators (44-18-4) in the race for the Presidents' Trophy.

"It was a tough road win," Miller said. "I felt confident and I got some really great blocks tonight when I needed them. For the most part, I was able to sit back and get my reads. That's a big victory for us."

Making his first start since December 29, Jean-Sebastien Aubin made 26 saves for the Maple Leafs (31-26-9), who are three points behind the idle Carolina Hurricanes (33-27-7) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"I wasn't really feeling comfortable in the first, so it was kind of a good thing that I didn't face too many shots," said Aubin, who ended Andrew Raycroft's streak of 26 straight starts. "As soon as I got some shots in the second, I felt way more comfortable. I tried to keep the game as close as possible. It's just tough that we came up short."

Lydman gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead at 4:52 of the second with a one-timer from the right point. During a power play late in the period, defenseman Brian Campbell slapped a pass from the blue line to Stafford, who perfectly redirected it past Aubin with 2:07 remaining for a two-goal cushion.

"You can tell that he's definitely ready for this level," Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere said of Stafford, the 13th overall pick in 2004. "He's got lots of confidence. He's strong and, if you watch him closely, he plays very solid in his own zone, too. It's not like he's a liability when he's out there. He's getting the ice time and he's performing well."

The Sabres, who posted a 6-1 victory here on Tuesday, expanded the advantage with 3:42 to go in the third. Aubin got a piece of Paetsch's wrist shot from the slot, but the puck bounced into the net for the 23-year-old's first NHL tally.

"I wasn't going full speed," Paetsch said. "I saw Danny turn back and their guy kept going, so I just yelled and Danny made a great spin and then backhand pass on my tape. I just let it rip."








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUFFALO 0 2 1 3
    TORONTO 0 0 1 1 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: BUF - TONI LYDMAN 2 (HENRIK TALLINDER, MARK MANCARI) 4:52
    BUF - (PP) DREW STAFFORD 6 (BRIAN CAMPBELL, JOCHEN HECHT)
    17:53
    3RD PRD: BUF - NATHAN PAETSCH 1 (DANIEL BRIERE, JASON POMINVILLE)
    16:18
    TOR - N

    Mar 3 9:38 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 3
    TORONTO 1
    3RD PRD: TOR - NIK ANTROPOV 12 (MATS SUNDIN, ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY)
    16:50

    Sabres vs. Maple LeafsMar 3 9:32 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 3
    TORONTO 0
    3RD PRD: BUF - NATHAN PAETSCH 1 (DANIEL BRIERE, JASON POMINVILLE)
    16:18

    Sabres vs. Maple LeafsMar 3 9:31 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUFFALO 0 2 2
    TORONTO 0 0 0 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: BUF - TONI LYDMAN 2 (HENRIK TALLINDER, MARK MANCARI) 4:52
    BUF - (PP) DREW STAFFORD 6 (BRIAN CAMPBELL, JOCHEN HECHT)
    17:53
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUF

    Mar 3 8:41 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 2
    TORONTO 0
    2ND PRD: BUF - (PP) DREW STAFFORD 6 (BRIAN CAMPBELL, JOCHEN HECHT)
    17:53

    Sabres vs. Maple LeafsMar 3 8:38 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 1
    TORONTO 0
    2ND PRD: BUF - DAINIUS ZUBRUS 21 (TONI LYDMAN) 4:52

    Sabres vs. Maple LeafsMar 3 8:09 PM


  • ------------------------
    Buffalo
    0 --0
    Toronto 0 --0
    ------------------------

    FIRST PERIOD -- Scoring: None. Penalties: N Antropov, Tor (hooking), 6:12; T Green,
    Tor (slashing), 8:24; T Numminen, Buf (delay of game), 13:48; M
    Sundin, Tor (interference), 17:51.

    Shots on goal:
    -----------------------------
    Buffalo 5 --5
    Toronto 6 --6
    --------------

    Mar 3 7:45 PM