Tavares Scores OT Winner to Lift the Maple Leafs past the Sabres 2-1

TORONTO — John Tavares scored his 10th goal of the season at 1:45 of overtime and picked up his 400th NHL assist as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday.

William Nylander scored the other goal for the Maple Leafs (13-11-4).

Frederik Andersen made 29 saves in victory.

Rasmus Ristolainen scored the only goal for Buffalo (12-10-5).

Carter Hutton made 41 saves in defeat and fell to 0-5-3 in his last eight games.

The game marked the home-coaching debut for Maple Leafs bench boss Sheldon Keefe. The former NHLer from Brampton was named head coach of the Maple Leafs on Nov. 20 after the team dismissed Mike Babcock on the same day.

Sheldon Keefe
Sheldon Keefe (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

“A lot of my family in the building today,” Keefe said hours before puck drop. “I grew up in the area, obviously. So from that sense, it’s special and I’m happy to share it with my family.”

The Maple Leafs outshot the Sabres 11-8 in the opening period. The best scoring chance for either team in the frame came when Sabres forward Sam Reinhart’s shot from the circle hit the post at 7:31.

The Maple Leafs opened the scoring in the second period.

Nylander went to the net after receiving a pass from Auston Matthews. He deked Hutton and shot the puck over his shoulder and into the net for the power-play goal at 5:30. John Tavares picked up his 400th career assist on the Nylander goal.

The Sabres had several chances to score in the frame. Andersen made a glove save off Connor Sheary at 11:50. The play was reviewed as part of Andersen’s glove appeared to be over the line, but the review was inconclusive. Later in the period, Jeff Skinner had a chance from the slot while Andersen lost control of his stick, but Andersen made the save at 18:31. Victor Olofsson’s shot from the circle hit the post at 19:09.

Frederik Andersen Toronto Maple Leafs
Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Maple Leafs outshot the Sabres 16-11 in the second period.

Buffalo found the equalizer in the third. Rasmus Ristolainen scored his second goal after he saw a clear path to the net while trying to find a player open. He cut across the net and beat Andersen blocker side at 6:58.

The Sabres went 0 for 2 on the power play. They now have just one goal with the man advantage in their last 37 opportunities.

Tavares scored the winning goal from long range beating Hutton at 1:45 of overtime.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2019.

David Alter, The Canadian Press