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24 March 2007

Leafs play great game...for first 43:52 minutes

Here's where Colaiacovo prepares to "back-up" Raycroft...

Nothing to do last night, so I decided to watch the Leafs-Sabres game to see Toronto get a crushing (hey, I am a Habs fan!).

Tomas Kaberle's return to the lineup was greeted by a weak "let-go" and loss.

Ok, not "crushing", but I expected the Sabres to once again win.

For the first 43:52 the Leafs played outstanding hockey.
I was impressed.

The forecheck was on "automatic", the offense was creative and the passes were accurate and the defence was quick to retalitate would there be a turnover or giveaway.

And the shot total for the first period, proved it too: 21-9 Leafs.

It's not every day you hold the highest scoring team in the NHL to 9 shots and limited scoring chances.
However, Ryan Miller was being Ryan Miller with 20 saves which kept the game tied at 1 thanks to a Buffalo Tomas Vanek goal and a Bryan McCabe 5-3 advantage tally late in the first.

"Wow", the Leafs really wanted to win, they were determined to do so and that run continued in the second when Matt Stajan FINALLY scored on his 4th scoring chance of the night on a pretty tip-in from the slot thanks to Alex Steen.

The second was ALL-LEAFS except for occasional bursts of pressure from the frantic Sabres, who looked like their season was on the line, every time they went down and heck, that's why they're tops in the East!
Andrew Raycroft made some huge saves and Carlo Colaiacovo put his goalie instincts to work as he backed-up Raycroft in his net by moving post-to-post like a real goalie!

The Leafs had just shut-out the highest scoring second period team in the NHL.

As the 3rd began, I was confident the Sabres would show their true colours and come back. Those hopes sunk once Boyd Deveraux completed a Matt Stajan pass on a open net vacated by Ryan Miller to put Toronto up 3-1.
Those hopes nearly dissapeared when Boyd Deveraux tallied his second of the game at 3:59 of the same period off a funny bounce of the endboards and the referee and to the front of the net were Deveraux was.

4-1 Leafs.

I couldn't believe it, the Sabres losing to a current non-playoff team by 3 goals!

Anyway, after Deveraux scored, it was the last I saw of the hard-fighting, playoff-driven Leafs in the game.

Penalties destroyed Toronto.

Pavel Kubina sits for 2 for tripping, Tomas Vanek scores his 37th of the season and second of the game on a rush along the boards, just a perfect shot, beating Raycroft low stick side.


Ian White goes off for hooking and the Sabres apply tremendous pressure and you can feel the HSBC crowd never wrote off their team, and they were right.

Daniel Briere bangs at a puck in front of Raycroft several times and gets it by the Leafs netminder and his backup, Carlo Colaiacovo, just as White's penalty expires.


Jason Pominville picks up a great long pass from Daniel Briere and snaps it by Raycroft low-glove side to tie the game!

It is the second time this season I've seen the Sabres come back from 4-1 deficits in the 3rd period and beat opposing teams 5-4.

This first I was in Boston and the TD Banknorth Garden where the Bruins led 4-1 in the third period with just 8 minutes remaining.
The Sabres potted 3 quickies and beat Boston in a shootout.

Nearly same scenario here as Drew Stafford completes a pass from hero Tomas Vanek to make Paul Maurice's blood pressure rise, and the Leafs lose out on gaining ground on an idle Eastern Conference.

And tonight they face the Sabres again...

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

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