A harmless wrist shot and some bad ice enabled the Toronto Maple Leafs to come away with two valuable points in a 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres at the HSBC Arena on Friday night.
Ian White scored his fifth goal of the season with 7:56 to play in the third period to break a 1-1 tie, when his harmless wrist shot from the left point skipped past startled Sabres' net minder Ryan Miller.
Miller lamented he should have got his body in front of the shot, because the Buffalo ice, he says, gets rough and bouncy towards the end of the game.
White has been one of the Leafs more valuable commodities this season, especially after spending the first 10 games watching from the press box.
Leafs coach Ron Wilson inserted the versatile White into the starting lineup, after injuries and a suspension to forward Ryan Hollweg gave the 24-year-old Steinbach, Manitoba native his opportunity.
Playing both defence and wing, White has produced five goals and four assists and is a plus four, in 18 games.
The Maple Leafs killed off a two-man disadvantage for nearly six minutes, allowing the Sabres just one shot on goal.
This may have been one of the key turning points in the hockey game.
With 10 seconds to go in the second period, Buffalo-area native Lee Stempniak received a double-minor for high-sticking Sabres defence-man Andej Sekera. Then, with just 16 seconds left in Stempniak's penalty, Jeff Finger was fingered for hooking and the Leafs were two men short.
Six minutes later, White put the Leafs on top.
Jeremy Williams notched the other Leafs marker, his second in as many games with the Leafs since his promotion from the AHL Marlies. The Regina native will surely stick with the big club if he produces at a this pace. Tony Lydman replied for the lone Sabres tally.
This game also marked the return of Leafs blueliner Mike Van Ryn, who missed 14 games with a broken hand and a concussion. Van Ryn was plastered into the end boards by Montreal's Tom Kotsopolous nearly five weeks ago. Kotsopolous got a measly three games for the hit from behind.
The win pulled Toronto to within three points of the Sabres for eighth in the Eastern Conference standings. The victory by the Leafs marked the fourth time this season they have won two straight. The team has yet to win three in a row his season.
Buffalo, meanwhile, had its three-game winning streak come to an end.
Vesa Toskala made 24 saves for the Leafs as Toronto improved to 11-12-6 this season. Miller made 31 stops as Buffalo dropped to 14-12-3.
Toronto will enjoy a rare Saturday night off, then play host to the New Jersey Devils this Tuesday from the Air Canada Center.
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