Final

Series (Game 1 of 6)

Buffalo leads 5-1

Game 1: Friday, December 12th
Maple Leafs2Final
Sabres1
Game 2: Thursday, January 1st
Sabres4Final
Maple Leafs1
Game 3: Wednesday, February 4th
Maple Leafs0Final
Sabres5
Game 4: Tuesday, February 17th
Sabres4Final
Maple Leafs1
Game 5: Friday, March 27th
Maple Leafs3Final
Sabres5
Game 6: Wednesday, April 8th
Sabres3Final
Maple Leafs1

Maple Leafs 2

(11-12-6, 28 pts)

Sabres 1

(14-12-3, 31 pts)

7:30 PM ET, December 12, 2008

First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York

1 2 3 T
TOR 0 1 12
BUF 1 0 01

V. Toskala (Maple Leafs - G): Saves: 24, Save Pct.: .960

M. Grabovski (Maple Leafs - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

L. Stempniak (Maple Leafs - RW): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

White scores late to back Toskala's effort in close win over Sabres

Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Style points aside, Ian White gave the Toronto Maple Leafs two more points in the standings

White's harmless-looking wrist shot from the left point skipped off the ice just in front of Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller before bouncing over his left shoulder and in with 7:56 left to give the Maple Leafs a 2-1 victory over the Sabres on Friday night.

Fast Facts

• Toronto won two in a row for the fourth time this season. They've yet to string together three straight wins.

• Tony Lydman scored his first goal of the season on Dec. 12 for the second straight year.

• In 14 games for the Blues, Lee Stempniak had 13 points (3 goals, 10 assists). Since being traded to the Leafs, he has just four points in nine contests.

• Through the season's first 11 games, Mikhail Grabovski had just two points (1 goal, 1 assist). In the 18 games since, he has 17 points (9 goals, 8 assists).

-- ESPN research

"You're always surprised to see something like that go in," said White, who has scored in two straight games to up his season total to five. "I just tried to keep the puck in at the blue line, threw it on net, and sometimes good things happen."

Miller agreed the goal was a bit lucky, blaming the poor ice conditions.

"It's our home rink and I should know better. Our ice is terrible toward the end of the game," Miller said. "It gets a little bouncy and a little rough. I have to get my body in the way."

About 6 minutes before White's goal, the Maple Leafs were able to kill off 5:44 of penalty time that started with 10 seconds left in the second period after Lee Stempniak high-sticked Andrej Sekera. Jeff Finger was then whistled for hooking with 16 seconds left in Stempniak's double-minor, but Toronto's 27th-rated penalty-killing unit was able to prevail after allowing just one shot on goal.

"It was a tough penalty to take," Stempniak said. "We didn't even let them get set up."

Buffalo's best opportunity came when Drew Stafford stared at a gaping net just below the left circle, but his shot went off the side of the net.

"Obviously if we don't kill penalties we don't win the game," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. "That was huge."

Vesa Toskala made 24 saves for the Maple Leafs, and Jeremy Williams also scored to help Toronto improve to 11-12-6 with its second straight victory.

Toronto came in tied for the second-most goals allowed in the league, but have started to tighten up defensively. The Maple Leafs have surrendered two goals or less in six of their last eight, going 4-3-1 during that span.

"We still gave up a few too many chances, but they weren't able to score," said Toskala, who was making his eighth straight start. "But I think we're moving in the right direction. We just keep improving as a team and trying to get better every game."

Toni Lydman scored for the Sabres, and Miller made 31 saves. The loss snapped the Sabres' winning streak at three.

"We did a good job of making them look good," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "We had tons of opportunities but you let teams hang around you're going to make a mistake of letting them get a goal."

Toronto's defense was bolstered with the return of Mike Van Ryn, who missed the last 13 games because of a broken bone in his hand and a concussion sustained when he was rammed from behind and into the boards by Montreal forward Tom Kostopoulos on Nov. 8.

Lydman opened the scoring with his first of the season 6 minutes into the game. The defenseman cruised into the lower portion of the left circle before letting go a wrist shot that beat Toskala.

The Maple Leafs tied it with 2:21 left in the second period on Williams' second goal of the season. Williams took a behind-the-back drop pass from Pavel Kubina at the Buffalo blue line before skating to the top of the left circle and wristing a shot by Miller.

Williams has scored in both games he's played this season. After being recalled from the Toronto Marlies of the AHL on Sunday, he scored in the Maple Leafs' 4-2 win over the New York Islanders on Monday night.

Game notes


The Sabres played without captain Craig Rivet (upper body). ... Toronto was once again without rookie D Luke Schenn (sprained knee) and forward Niklas Hagman (head), with both missing their second game. ... It was the first of six meetings this season between the two Northeast Division rivals. ... Sabres C Derek Roy extended his points streak to five games with an assist on Lydman's goal. ... Lydman's goal was just the fourth this season by a Buffalo defenseman.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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