Maple Leafs 7, Sabres 0

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TORONTO (AP)—Jay McKee called it embarrassing and said the Buffalo Sabres have lost their chemistry—just weeks before the playoffs begin.

Nik Antropov scored twice in a five-goal first period and the Toronto Maple Leafs routed the Sabres 7-0 Saturday night.

“That’s the worst loss I’ve ever been a part of,” McKee said. “We were dominated all over the ice in every area. We played like a team that is out of the playoffs and they played like a team that is comfortably in the playoffs.”

Buffalo has gone 1-7-1 since its season-high eighth straight win against Toronto on March 16. The Sabres needed a point or an Atlanta loss Saturday night to clinch their first playoff berth since 2000-01. Atlanta won.

“We have just lost our chemistry and we better find it in a hurry,” McKee said. “We got to get out of it immediately if we want to be successful in the playoffs. It was a terrible game. I’d say we should be embarrassed.”

Toronto took a 4-0 lead in the first 6:24 as Jeff O’Neill, Ian White, Tie Domi and Antropov scored—the fastest they’ve scored four goals all season.

“We’re in a funk for whatever reason,” goalie Ryan Miller said. “We got to put the joy back in our game.”

Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff replaced Miller after he allowed three goals on six shots. Martin Biron came in and allowed Domi to score on the first shot he faced.

Miller replaced Biron, who gave up two goals on six shots, to start the second. Miller finished with 12 saves.

“That part has got to better. They’ve had some tough times,” Ruff said. “We’ve been able to overcome some of those times. Right now, we haven’t been able to, but we got to be able to support them better at times like this too. That’s it for me, thanks.”

Alexei Ponikarovsky had a goal and two assists and Matt Stajan also scored for the Maple Leafs, winners of three straight and five of seven.

Toronto is in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, seven points out of the eighth and final spot, and in serious danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 1997-98.

“We have nothing to lose right now,” Ponikarovsky said. “We have a stretch of 10 games. We have to try to win all of them.”

Jean-Sebastien Aubin made 24 saves for his first shutout of the season and the seventh of his career.

O’Neill gave Toronto a 1-0 lead at 2:05 of the first after Buffalo’s Tim Connolly turned the puck over in his own end. Alex Steen made a centering pass to O’Neill, who put a weak shot past Miller.

White scored his first career NHL goal after his shot deflected off Buffalo defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick’s skate and in at 4:49.

Less than a minute later, Domi—standing at the side of the net—tipped a shot past Biron.

Just 58 seconds later Antropov tipped a shot with the shaft of his stick— the fastest span they’ve scored four goals this season .

Antropov made it 5-0 at 15:20 with a shot from in from of the net as he was falling down.

Ponikarovsky made it 6-0 at 4:43 of the third with a wrist shot that beat Miller on the glove side.

Notes

Buffalo co-captain Daniel Briere served the second game of a two-game suspension for high-sticking Brian Leetch. … The Leafs were well-rested for the game, having been off since a 3-2 victory over Philadelphia on Tuesday. … The Sabres were 4-1 against Toronto this season before this loss. They had outscored the Leafs 25-13. … Wade Belak tussled with Buffalo’s Paul Gaustad after Stajan scored Toronto’s seventh goal. Belak landed more punches.

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Three Stars

  Game Winning Goal
J. O'Neill J. O'Neill
Toronto Maple Leafs
Scored at 2:05 of 1st

Goaltending

Goalie Team Shot Save
Martin Biron NYR 6 4