TORONTO -- Ryan Miller missed a shutout by one minute and 42 seconds, but more important, he was the key to the Buffalo Sabres' 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night.
Miller made 34 saves as the Sabres spoiled the Maple Leafs' home opener before a crowd of 19,475 at Air Canada Centre to remain undefeated two games into the lockout-shortened season.
"I think Ryan Miller comes to mind when you ask how did we win that game," said Buffalo center Cody Hodgson, who scored the game's first goal in the first period. "He was pretty amazing back there. We were just able to pull it out. It wasn't the prettiest, but we'll take it."
Jason Pominville assisted on Hodgson's second goal of the season and scored what proved to be the winner in the second period.
Nazem Kadri gave Toronto hope when he scored his second goal of the season on a power play at 18:18 of the third period, sending home a wrist shot after Michael Kostka's shot was wide.
The Leafs thought they had tied the score seconds later, but it was ruled no goal because the puck was directed in with a glove.
"I didn't understand how it went in," Miller said. "I had my stick out to deflect it in the crease and it went away from me, so I was a little confused with how it went in without a little help. I was just planning it to be a goal and have to reset my mindset to have it go into overtime and pull out a win here."
Toronto continued to storm the Buffalo goal and had a power play with seven seconds to play. The Sabres held on and the Leafs fell to 1-1.
"He's one of the top goalies in the league for a reason," said Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuf, who hit the crossbar in the first period. "You have to have traffic (around the net) and we did, and he made some very good saves. We hit a post in the first. You have to give him credit. He made some big saves and at the end of the day we just didn't execute."
Toronto had the better of the action during stretches in the first two periods, helped by an early power-play advantage. But in the third period, Buffalo kept Toronto under control for the first part and was dangerous on counters. In the final minutes when Toronto threatened, Miller had most of the answers.
The turning point came during the second period. After spotting the Sabres a first-period goal, the Maple Leafs applied pressure in the early minutes of the second. But Buffalo stunned the Leafs with a goal at 4:51 on a breakout when Pominville notched his first of the season on a pass from Thomas Vanek.
"We had a great shift going," Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said. "That really deflates your group when you have an extended period time in the offensive zone. I would say it was 30 seconds plus and we're doing a lot of good things. We managed to get a line change against their tired players, everything was going our way. ... It was a 1-0 game and one guy falls down and the puck bounces off the wall and the next thing you know it's in your net. That's life in the NHL."
Maple Leafs goaltender Ben Scrivens said, "We had a lot of chances to score. I probably could have done a better job on that second one. It's a young season, it's two games in. I really liked our game in the third period and at the end of the second. We have a lot of positives from the game."
The Leafs continued to apply pressure in the second period with the occasional counter by the Sabres. With about seven minutes to play in the second, Miller came through with a good save on John-Michael Liles. After two periods, Toronto had a 21-11 advantage in shots.
The Sabres started the scoring at 8:51 of the first period when Hodgson deflected Christian Ehrhoff's shot from the left point past Scrivens, who has started both of Toronto's games.
The Maple Leafs had a two-man advantage late in the first period after Tyler Myers was called for delay of game at 14:45 when he inadvertently flipped puck over the glass while skating behind the Buffalo goal. Drew Stafford already was off after picking up an interference penalty at 14:24. Buffalo got another penalty at 16:01 when Steve Ott was called for closing his hand on the puck.
Phaneuf hit the crossbar with a shot and that was all the Leafs could do on their extended power play. They did get one puck into the goal, but it was after the whistle.
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff thought his team had chances to put the game away before Toronto made the game close.
"We had the majority of the odd-numbered rushes and some real good opportunities that we ended up missing," Ruff said. "Even Pominville missing the empty net was a big moment for us."
NOTES: Maple Leafs left winger Joffrey Lupul was signed to a five-year contract extension that takes him through the 2017-18 season. Lupul, who makes $4.25 million this season, reportedly will receive $5.25 million a year under the new deal. He has a limited no-trade clause. ... Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner (head/neck), who was injured Dec. 8 while playing for the Toronto Marlies of the AHL, is skating with the Leafs and says he is ready to return but did not play Monday. ... Sabres left winger Nathan Gerbe (back) and center Cody McCormick (hand) have been placed on injured reserve. Left winger Ville Leino (lower body) did not play. ... Monday's game was the first of four between the teams this season. ... Defensemen Mike Weber and T.J. Brennan were scratches for Buffalo. ... Defensemen Cody Franson and Mike Komisarek and center David Steckel were Toronto scratches. ... The Sabres visit Carolina on Thursday for their next game. ... The Leafs' next game is Wednesday at Pittsburgh.