Kessel scores winner for Maple Leafs
Saturday, March 12, 2011; 10:02 PM
TORONTO -- Mikhail Grabovski and Phil Kessel scored in a 2:33 span early in the third period and rookie James Reimer made a jaw-dropping save on Tomas Vanek in the period in the Toronto Maple Leafs' 4-3 comeback victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.
Clarke MacArthur and Tyler Bozak also scored to help Toronto end a three-game slide and move back within four points of the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. Mike Weber, Jochen Hecht and Jordan Leopold scored for Buffalo. The Sabres finished a seven-game trip 4-2-1.
Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller has owned the Maple Leafs during his NHL career, but had to deal with plenty of traffic and seemed to get a bit rattled. He dropped his arms in frustration when Kessel beat him with a low shot at 6:36 of the third period - the second of two quick goals that made it 4-3. Joffrey Lupul charged hard to the net on the play and might have disrupted Miller's concentration.
Kessel has 28 goals this season.
Grabovski tied it with a one-timer at 4:03 of the third, his 27th goal of the season.
Weber opened the scoring less than 3 minutes in. The defenseman took a wrist shot through traffic that beat Reimer, who never seemed to pick up the puck through traffic.
A goal by MacArthur, his 20th, against his former team evened the score. With Grabovski charging toward the net, he wired a slap shot in off the post at 11:23.
Bozak made it 2-1 just past the midway point of the game. After failing to beat Miller on a breakaway, Bozak took a pass from Kessel and scored his 11th of the season.
However, the Sabres grabbed back the momentum before the end of the period. Hecht buried a rebound with 8:56 left and Leopold beat Reimer with a point shot on a power play with 4:29 remaining.
NOTES: Toronto's Tim Brent left the game late in the second period after taking a high stick to the face. ... Buffalo is 29-11-1 against the Maple Leafs since the lockout. ... Fredrik Sjostrom sat out for Toronto. ... The Sabres are nursing plenty of injuries: Derek Roy (knee), Jochen Hecht (upper body), Patrick Kaleta (lower body), Drew Stafford (hamstring), Paul Gaustad (upper body) and Chris Butler (upper body) all sat out.