for this game

Blake helps Maple Leafs top Sabres

Mar 22, 2008 - 4:24 AM
BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- Jason Blake helped keep alive the Toronto Maple Leafs' flickering playoff hopes while also putting a dent into the Buffalo Sabres' chances.

Blake scored the game's initial goal and set up another as the Maple Leafs posted a 4-1 victory over the Sabres on Friday.

Darcy Tucker, blue-liner Anton Stralman and Matt Stajan also tallied for Toronto (34-31-10), which won its second straight and climbed within five points of idle Boston (37-28-9) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"This was a team we played last Saturday, when they scored six on us," Blake said of the Sabres. "We also knew they scored seven times on Wednesday night. Good, solid defense, and (goaltender Vesa) Toskala played a heckuva game again. He gives us a chance to win every night. Our penalty-killers also did a whale of a job. Just a good team win."

Thomas Vanek scored Buffalo's lone goal and Ryan Miller made 20 saves for the Sabres (35-29-11), who remained two points behind the Bruins.

"We had quite a few opportunities," Sabres captain Jason Pominville said. "I think on a few, we should have made better plays that cost us goals. Once they took the lead, it was tough to come back. We did it last game, but we're not going to be able to do that every night. We have to make sure we get better starts."

Blake opened the scoring at 8:39 of the first period, when he received a backhand pass from Alex Steen and fired a shot from the slot that went between the pads of Miller, giving the Maple Leafs a 1-0 advantage. It was Blake's 14th goal of the season and just his second in nine games.

"It was just a good play", Blake said. "It was a nice pass by (Steen). I looked up and I shot it. It's nice to get that first goal. We didn't look back from there."

Toronto doubled its lead 3:36 later by taking advantage of its first power play. Tucker, stationed just to the right off the net, slid the rebound of defenseman Pavel Kubina's blast between the pads of Miller for a 2-0 bulge.

Vanek capitalized on a man advantage 31 seconds into the middle period, when he deflected Derek Roy's shot past the glove of Toskala for his 100th career goal.

But eight minutes later, Stralman scored his first career goal. Off a faceoff, the Swedish defenseman gathered the puck just inside the blue line and fired a knuckling wrister past Miller to give Toronto a 3-1 lead.

"I saw the goalie", Stralman said. "There was a defenseman in front of him. I couldn't see that it went in right away, but it makes sense that it did."

Stajan capped the scoring by slapping in a rebound with 6:52 left for the Maple Leafs, who have won four of their last five games.

Toskala, who stopped 27 shots over the first two periods, made eight saves in the third en route to his 31st win of the season.

"We had our chances, we had our looks, a little better execution," Roy said. "They blocked a couple of shots, Toskala made some big saves. We had them on their heels in the third period, also. They held pretty tight. We just kept missing."

The Finnish netminder also helped successfully kill seven of Buffalo's eight power plays, including three 5-on-3 opportunities. "There were a couple of guys in front of me all the time", Toskala said. "There was lots of shot-blocking today that obviously made my job a lot easier."

"Not scoring on the power play was disappointing," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "Without question, we had our opportunities and had some good looks. You put your best players out there, and they've got to make plays. We definitely had a couple near misses. It was probably the difference in the game."








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TORONTO 2 1 1 4
    BUFFALO 0 1 0 1 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: TOR - JASON BLAKE 14 (ALEX STEEN, ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY) 8:39
    TOR - (PP) DARCY TUCKER 16 (PAVEL KUBINA, MATT STAJAN) 12:15
    2ND PRD: BUF - (PP) THOMAS VANEK 32 (DEREK ROY, JASON POMINVILLE)
    0:31
    TOR - ANTON STRALMAN 1 (

    Mar 21 10:04 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 4
    BUFFALO 1
    3RD PRD: TOR - MATT STAJAN 15 (JASON BLAKE, ANTON STRALMAN) 13:08

    Maple Leafs 4, Sabres 1  3rd - 6:52Mar 21 9:54 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TORONTO 2 1 3
    BUFFALO 0 1 1 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: TOR - JASON BLAKE 14 (ALEX STEEN, ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY) 8:39
    TOR - (PP) DARCY TUCKER 16 (PAVEL KUBINA, MATT STAJAN) 12:15
    2ND PRD: BUF - (PP) THOMAS VANEK 32 (DEREK ROY, JASON POMINVILLE)
    0:31
    TOR - ANTON

    Mar 21 9:11 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 3
    BUFFALO 1
    2ND PRD: TOR - ANTON STRALMAN 1 (DOMINIC MOORE) 8:27

    Maple Leafs 3, Sabres 1  2nd - 11:33Mar 21 8:53 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 2
    BUFFALO 1
    2ND PRD: BUF - (PP) THOMAS VANEK 32 (DEREK ROY, JASON POMINVILLE) 0:31

    Maple Leafs 2, Sabres 1  2nd - 19:29Mar 21 8:37 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TORONTO 2 2
    BUFFALO 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: TOR - JASON BLAKE 14 (ALEX STEEN, ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY) 8:39
    TOR - (PP) DARCY TUCKER 16 (PAVEL KUBINA, MATT STAJAN) 12:15
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TOR 9

    Mar 21 8:17 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 2
    BUFFALO 0
    1ST PRD: TOR - (PP) DARCY TUCKER 16 (PAVEL KUBINA, MATT STAJAN) 12:15

    Maple Leafs 2, Sabres 0  1st - 7:45Mar 21 8:03 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 1
    BUFFALO 0
    1ST PRD: TOR - JASON BLAKE 14 (ALEX STEEN, ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY) 8:39

    Maple Leafs 1, Sabres 0  1st - 11:21Mar 21 7:52 PM
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