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Injury-plagued Buffalo wins third straight, reigns over NHL

TORONTO -- The Buffalo Sabres are first overall in the NHL despite missing eight regulars to injury.

Toni Lydman, Drew Stafford and Nathan Paetsch scored to lead the injury-riddled Sabres to a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

Buffalo, using a number of call-ups from the AHL affiliate in Rochester, has lost only once in regulation in its past 11 games (9-1-1). Nashville trails Buffalo by a point for the top spot.

"We've got some forwards down in Rochester that are very good players, that have stepped up and proven they can be quality NHL players," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "They've done a very good job for us."

The Sabres are 3-0 in Toronto this season, including last Tuesday's 6-1 rout.

Ruff also credited goalie Ryan Miller, who made 26 saves.

Miller said the organization has depth.

"The guys who are up are familiar with our organization," Miller said. "A lot of these guys challenged at camp to make the team. They have been really hungry all year. I think it helps that they know it's not going to be just a game or two."

Nik Antropov scored a late goal for the Maple Leafs, who have lost three of four. Fans booed in the final seconds.

Toronto's Darcy Tucker returned after missing two months with a broken left foot. Tucker received a long ovation when he was shown on the videoboard following a tribute showing his most violent hits and entertaining antics.

The Maple Leafs played without top defenseman Tomas Kaberle, who is out indefinitely after sustaining a concussion from a late hit by New Jersey's Cam Janssen.

Janssen was suspended for three games by the NHL on Saturday.

"I'm really disappointed in the fact that we lost one of our leaders and one of the top five defenseman for I don't know long when we're in a situation where we're in a battle of our lives," Tucker said.

Tucker said it's tough to take because Janssen plays "two minutes a game."

"His only role out there is try to hurt somebody," Tucker said.

Toronto backup goalie Jean-Sebastien Aubin made his first start since Dec. 29 -- a span of 27 games. Aubin went on a 9-0-2 run last year at this time to almost get Toronto in the playoffs.

After Aubin made a series of sprawling saves in the second period, Buffalo kept the puck in Toronto's end before Lydman scored on a shot from the point at 4:52.

Stafford, alone behind the net, called for the puck before redirecting it in from the side of the net for a power-play goal at 17:53.

The Maple Leafs skated in on a 2-on-1 break late in the period, but Matt Stajan fanned on his shot.

Paetsch scored his first career NHL goal on a wrist shot that deflected off Aubin's blocker at 16:18 of the third.

Just 32 seconds later, Antropov spoiled Miller's shutout bid with a shot from in front.

Game notes
Tucker has 19 goals and 12 assists in 39 games this season. He signed a four-year contract extension with the team this week. ... Former Leaf great Red Kelly watched from the stands. ... Drury missed his fourth straight game with a concussion. He hopes to return Wednesday at home against Colorado.