Sabres look for repeat from offense vs. Leafs

Field Level Media

The Buffalo Sabres regained their scoring ability Friday afternoon when they defeated the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs 6-4. Now they try to maintain it Saturday night in the conclusion of the home-and-home set.

Entering Friday, the Sabres had scored the second-fewest goals (27) in the National Hockey League in November and had a league-worst six points in 12 games. Despite the offensive explosion Friday, they were 0-for-2 on the power play to extend the drought to 1-for-35.

Sam Reinhart has one goal in nine games for the Sabres; Jeff Skinner scored a goal Friday, his second in the past eight games; Conor Sheary is without a goal in his past 18 games and Casey Mittelstadt scored Friday after going 16 games without a goal.

"Probably a lack of confidence," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger had said in trying to explain his struggling offense. "We need to have a concentrated group and we need to continue building our defensive foundation, which is becoming stronger and stronger, but now adding the offense will be the key. And our power play, again, is the motor. ... It's got to break out of the shell and we have to keep working on that. For me, I think the solution to the offense will be a better power play, more effective scoring chances there, and that will carry into our 5-on-5 play."

That confidence had a boost Friday when the Sabres overcame a 2-0 deficit by scoring four goals in the second period.

"Well, you've got to give some credit to them. I thought they did do a nice job," Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. "Things that we talked about going into the game, we knew the neutral zone was going to be hard to get through today with just how they set up their structure there."

The Sabres had lost their previous five meetings with the Maple Leafs, matching the most consecutive losses they have had against Toronto in franchise history.

After a promising 9-2-1 start to the season, the Sabres are in a 3-8-3 funk -- even after the win.

The Maple Leafs entered the series on a three-game winning streak that coincided with the promotion of Keefe from the American Hockey League Toronto Marlies when Mike Babcock was fired with the Leafs on a six-game losing streak.

Michael Hutchinson started in goal Friday afternoon, which was a change in the pattern that Babcock used in games on back-to-back days. Babcock would start Frederik Andersen in the opener in back-to-back situations with the backup playing in the second games.

Andersen will get the start Saturday.

Hutchinson allowed five goals, with the other goal scored after he had been removed for an extra attacker.

"Hutch has played more in the American League (and) was playing (more afternoon starts), so he is accustomed to that," Keefe said.

The Leafs still do not have a win from their backup goalie this season, as Hutchinson and Kasimir Kaskisuo have combined to go 0-6-1.

Linus Ullmark was in goal for the Sabres Friday and Carter Hutton is expected to start Saturday.

"I think, especially with the last three games, we built some really good things," said Maple Leafs center John Tavares, who scored twice Friday. "We got the lead; we were a little sloppy at times but had some good opportunities."

--Field Level Media

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