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Skinner scores 2 and Sabres respond to embarrassing loss with 9-3 rout of Maple Leafs

Thu, Dec 21, 2023
NHL News (AP)

Skinner scores 2 and Sabres respond to embarrassing loss with 9-3 rout of Maple Leafs

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Coach Don Granato vowed the Buffalo Sabres problems would be resolved after their most embarrassing loss of the season, and for one night his team responded.

Two days after the Sabres were booed off the ice and fans chanted for Granato's firing following a 9-4 loss to Columbus, Buffalo rolled to a 9-3 rout of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night.

"We took last game really personally, I think, on a bunch of different levels," said Alex Tuch, who had four assists. "I thought we owed one to ourselves, we owed one to the coaching staff."

Jeff Skinner scored twice, including the go-ahead goal, and added an assist, in his first game back after missing three with an upper-body injury. Tage Thompson also had a goal and two assists and captain Kyle Okposo scored twice in the Sabres' best offensive outing since a 9-4 win against Columbus on Dec. 7, 2022.

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Rasmus Dahlin, Owen Power, Jordan Greenway and Jack Quinn also scored.

This time it was the Maple Leafs' turn to be embarrassed, with goalie Ilya Samsonov acknowledging he's struggling mentally following an outing he was yanked after allowing five goals on 19 shots 1:03 into the second period.

"I need to figure out everything in my head," said Samsonov, who allowed six goals on 35 shots in a 6-5 overtime loss to Columbus last week. "That's the first (thing). It's not about technique. It's not about, you know, it's not about nothing. Just in the head."

Martin Jones mopped up, allowing four goals on 16 shots. The nine goals against were the most against Toronto since a 9-2 loss to Nashville on Nov. 18, 2014.

Auston Matthews, Calle Jarnkrok and Max Domi also scored for Toronto, which lost consecutive games in regulation for just the second time this season. The Maple Leafs had gone 6-0-3 before a 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday. William Nylander had an assist to extend his point streak to 10 games.

Sabres rookie goalie Devon Levi finished with 24 saves.

Buffalo opened the scoring before falling behind 2-1, as happened against Columbus. Rather than giving up seven consecutive goals as they did to the Blue Jackets, the Sabres mustered a response.

After Power tied it at 2 with 6:16 left in the first period, Buffalo never relinquished the lead after Skinner scored 2:13 later. He beat Samsonov on the glove side while driving to the net after Tuck intercepted Mitchell Marner's blind pass up the boards.

"We came out ready to go," Granato said. "I thought we were able to set a high bar for ourselves. That is a significant factor."

The challenge for the Sabres is carrying over the momentum in a season they've won consecutive games just once.

Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said his players have to do a better job in front of Samsonov, while also acknowledging his goaltender's mental struggles by saying: "We need to help them through this."

As for whether he plans to review the game film, Keefe said: "We won't dissect it, but we won't forget it."

UP NEXT

Maple Leafs: Play at Columbus on Saturday.

Sabres: Play at the Rangers on Saturday.

___

AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

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Article Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved.

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