Steen, Antropov power Leafs to third straight win

TORONTO (AP) -- There's no quit in these Maple Leafs.

Alex Steen and Nik Antropov each had a goal and an assist and Toronto held on for a 4-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night for its third straight win.

Not bad for a team that left San Jose a week ago with their fifth straight loss.

Jason Blake and Alexei Ponikarovsky also scored for the Leafs (19-21-8), who turn around and play Sunday in New Jersey.

"The confidence and the positive mood is starting to come back in this dressing room," said Steen, who has two goals in two games. "The last little while we've done an unbelievable job of sticking together.

"We have a lot of character guys in here."

It's only the second time this season the Leafs have won three or more games in a row, following a four-game win streak Nov. 29-Dec. 6.

"We feel a little better about ourselves," Leafs coach Paul Maurice said.

Daniel Paille and Jochen Hecht scored for the Sabres (20-20-6), who were down 3-0 before scoring twice to make it interesting. After ending a 10-game winless streak Friday night with a 10-1 rout of Atlanta, the Sabres had less jump on this night and fell to 1-6-5 in their last 12 games.

"Back-to-back games aren't easy, but the position that we're in, we need to win these back-to-backs," Sabres defenseman Brian Campbell said.

Toronto goalie Vesa Toskala stopped 26 shots for his third straight win.

The Leafs took a 1-0 lead on an early power play, when Antropov finished off a pretty passing play from captain Mats Sundin at the side of the net at 2:05. Antropov's 18th of the season tied a career high.

Steen made it 2-0 on a Leafs power play just 34 seconds into the middle period when his centering attempt banked off Campbell. It was Steen's second goal in as many games.

Ponikarovsky beat Ryan Miller stick-side with a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle to make it 3-0 just 2 minutes later.

Buffalo finally solved Toskala at 13:16, when Hecht snapped a wrist shot top corner and glove side from the faceoff dot for his 16th of the season.

Paille made it 3-2 in the third period when he beat Toskala low on the glove side after a nice setup by Paul Gaustad.

Blake cemented the victory when he rifled a wrist shot just inside the post on a 2-on-1 break, beating Miller Glove side.

"That's really important," Maurice said of his team finishing off the game. "That confidence is layered -- it's built over time. You have to keep doing it."

Toronto was 2-for-5 on the power play while Buffalo was 0-for-2.

Game notes
Ian White had two assists ... Leafs defenseman Bryan McCabe skated for the first time Saturday morning since sustaining a broken hand Dec. 15 at Montreal. He remains about two to three weeks away from returning to the lineup ... For the Sabres it was the first of a seven-game road trip that also includes stops in Phoenix, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Florida, Atlanta and Boston. Their next home game is Feb. 6 against New Jersey.