TORONTO (AP) — Alex Tuch had two goals in his return from injury and the Buffalo Sabres rallied from two goals down to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 on Monday night.
Jack Quinn and Dylan Cozens also scored for Buffalo, and Owen Power and JJ Peterka each had two assists for Buffalo. Craig Anderson had 25 saves as the Sabres won for just the second time in eight games (2-5-1).
“Stayed patient,” said Tuch, who missed eight games with a lower-body injury, but has six goals and three assists in his last six appearances dating back to Feb. 15. “We just stuck to it.”
Auston Matthews had a goal and two assists, and William Nylander and Calle Jarnkrok also scored for Toronto. Mitch Marner had two assists and Matt Murray stopped 25 shots.
The Maple Leafs are all but assure of finishing second in the Atlantic Division, while the Sabres are trying to stay in contention for a wild card in the Eastern Conference.
“There’s enough to play for here, right?” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “It’s still tight enough (in the standings) that if you let your foot off the gas, not only are you now losing home ice, but you’ve got other teams (chasing).”
After falling behind 2-0 early in the second period, the Sabres scored four consecutive goals over a 27-minute stretch.
“We’ve made defending a greater focal point,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “Our guys recognized tonight ways they could impact it more and more as the game went along.”
Quinn batting the puck past Murray for the rookie forward’s 13th to get the Sabres on the scoreboard with 5:02 left in the second.
Anderson made a nice breakaway stop on Nylander on Toronto’s next shot early in the third — the Leafs went over 17 minutes without testing the Sabres’ goalie — before Tuch tied things at 3:39.
Murray denied Tage Thompson on a break to keep Toronto level, but Cozens gave Buffalo a 3-2 lead near the midpoint of the period for his 26th.
With the Sabres on a power play, Tuch converted a pass from Jeff Skinner with 8:41 left for his second of the night and first 30-goal season.
The Maple Leafs finally woke up as the period wore on, but Anderson stopped Michael Bunting on a 2-on-0 with John Tavares. Nylander scored his 35th from a tight angle with 1:01 remaining, but that’s as close as Toronto would come despite a wild final few seconds.
“I think 50/50 battles, just a little bit careless with the puck,” Matthews said about where things turned for Toronto. “They tilted the ice their way and now we’re just kind of chasing from that point.”
Playing his 38th career game against the Maple Leafs, Anderson was also sharp in a first period that included a couple of good looks for Matthews, who came in with 13 goals in 16 contests against the 41-year-old.
But Matthews eventually connected early in the second. After Marner and Alexander Kerfoot moved in on a 2-on-1, the latter booted the puck with his skate into the path of Matthews for him to chip his 31st upstairs.
Jarnkrok then doubled the advantage just over three minutes later when
A sound issue at Scotiabank Arena meant there was no audio for the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” prior to puck drop, but fans stepped in a cappella-style and belted out the U.S. national anthem before the problem was fixed in time for “O Canada.”
Tuch was back in the lineup after an eight-game absence with a lower-body injury.
“Not great timing,” Tuch said following the morning skating of being on the shelf with Buffalo desperately trying to stay in the playoff chase.
Sabres: At Washington on Wednesday night in the middle game of a three-game series.
Maple Leafs: Host Colorado on Wednesday night in the third of a four-game homestand.