Week 16 NFL rewind:

Leafs jump out early in win over Sabres

The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- The Buffalo Sabres continued to have problems in the first period Saturday.

They fell behind Toronto 2-0 in the opening period on goals by left winger James van Riemsdyk en route to a 4-2 loss to the Maple Leafs.

"We're terrible in the first period," left winger John Scott said. "Everyone knows it, it's something we talked about and we have to do something because it's costing us games and it cost us the game tonight."

Left wingers Nikolai Kulemin and Mason Raymond also scored for the Maple Leafs (12-7-1), who snapped a three-game losing streak.

Defenseman Jamie McBain and center Tyler Ennis scored for the Sabres (5-16-1), whose two-game winning streak ended with the loss.

The teams split a home-and-home series with the Sabres winning at Buffalo on Friday in the first game under interim coach Ted Nolan.

"We try to evaluate six periods and we played four pretty good ones," Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "That's what we're going to take away from it. There's areas of the game we'd like to improve on and we had a lot of things go our way from a stand point of executing through the neutral ice."

Nolan was more impressed with his team in defeat than he was in victory.

"We got off to a little bit of a slow start but I was more impressed with the game tonight than I was with last night," Nolan said. "We played much better. I thought the majority of the play was in their zone the whole third period and the last part of the second period."

Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer stopped 33 of 35 shots while Buffalo goalie Jhonas Enroth stopped 18 of 22 shots.

"In the second and third I think we picked our game up and the ice kind of tilted and we took it to them pretty good, had some chances and maybe deserved a better fate," Scott said.

The Sabres, who entered the third period trailing by three goals, cut into the lead early. They snapped Reimer's attempt for a second shutout of the season when McBain slapped home his second goal of the season from the edge of the left faceoff circle at 2:15 of the third period.

The Sabres cut the lead to 3-2 at 6:11 on a power-play goal by Ennis, his third goal of the season.

Raymond scored his seventh goal of the season at 18:56 of the third period to put the game away for the Leafs.

The Leafs took a 3-0 lead at 11:49 of the second period when Kulemin snapped in his first goal of the season from the right faceoff circle off a pass from Raymond.

The Leafs led 2-0 after dominating the first period.

Van Riemsdyk, who was back on the wing after being pressed into service as a center, scored his first goal of the game at 5:45 of the first period. He tipped in defenseman Cody Franson's shot from the right point while screening Enroth.

The Leafs needed only eight seconds on the power play to take advantage of a holding penalty to defenseman Christian Ehrhoff when van Riemsdyk again tipped in a shot by Franson for his ninth goal of the season at 13:35.

"We work on that quite a bit in practice, that sort of thing, tip the pucks and shooting pucks to the net," van Riemsdyk said. "We have a little bit of that chemistry where I know where the puck is going to go. "

"I think there was a conscious effort by our defensemen to get pucks through to that area and we were rewarded, specifically early in the game," Carlyle said.

NOTES: The Maple Leafs, who are missing their top three centers, acquired C Peter Holland and RW Brad Staubitz in a trade on Saturday with the Anaheim Ducks. The Leafs sent Anaheim D Jesse Blacker, a 2014 seventh-round draft pick and a 2014 third-round pick that becomes a second-rounder if Holland plays 25 NHL games. ... Holland played Saturday against the Sabres, and RW Troy Bodie and Staubitz were assigned to the American Hockey League Marlies. ... C Nazem Kadri (suspension), C Dave Bolland (cut ankle tendon) and C Tyler Bozak (hamstring) were out of the Leafs' lineup. ... Sabres D Nikita Zadorov, 18, a first-round pick in 2013 who did not play Saturday, is expected to be returned to his junior team at London, Ontario. ... After defeating the Maple Leafs 3-1 at Buffalo on Friday, the Sabres are 10-1-2 in their home games of home-and-home series with Toronto. The loss came Dec. 20, 1970.
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