Toronto Maple Leafs Can’t Overcome Three Goal First Period, Lose 3-1 to Buffalo Sabres

Feb 11, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen (31) makes a goal line save on Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno (82) in the first period at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 11, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen (31) makes a goal line save on Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno (82) in the first period at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

The Toronto Maple Leafs (25-18-11) couldn’t overcome a three goal first period and fell 3-1 to the Buffalo Sabres (23-22-10) on Saturday night.

Maple Leafs0101

Thoughts and Observations

  • The Toronto Maple Leafs fell behind early and couldn’t climb back from a three goal first period deficit. Slow starts have become a recent trend for the Leafs and they were ultimately doomed because of it again on Saturday.
  • Mitch Marner

    was everywhere in this game. He was easily the Leafs best player and he single-handedly tried to will Toronto to a comeback, which was highlighted by his magnificent wrap-around goal in the second period. Marner even got into a but of a tussle with Sabres defenceman

    Rasmus Ristolainen

    after he jumped in to defend

    Auston Matthews

    after Ristolainen tried to punch Matthews. Marner eventually wrestled Ristolainen to the ice and nothing serious came from the incident. Again, Marner was the Leafs best player in this game and he looked like a veteran out there. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is still amazed at what Marner is accomplishing as a 19-year-old.

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  • Once the Leafs fell behind early, we saw Mike Babcock fire up his line blender in the second period. That led to Marner and Matthews playing together again, which tells you how much they were struggling offensively tonight. It looks like Babcock will play Marner and Matthews together when he absolutely needs too, kind of like how Joel Quenneville will put Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane together when he needs too. While it’s fun to see Marner and Matthews play together, it does make more sense to have them each drive a line, like Babcock has said all season long.
  • Robin Lehner was fantastic for the Sabres. He stymied the Leafs and put together a stellar 43-save performance.
  • In his 500th career NHL game,

    James van Riemsdyk

    got into his third career NHL fight.

  • Not necessarily an odd stat, but it’s clear the Sabres success is intertwined with how Jack Eichel plays. When their 20-year-old superstar has two or more points in a game this season, the Sabres are a perfect 10-0.
  • Toronto’s rookies set a new franchise record for total combined points on Saturday with 208 points, breaking the old record of 207 that was set during the 1982-83 season.

  • It was another rough start for Frederik Andersen. The Great Dane allowed three goals on 10 shots in the opening period, but did stay in the game and finished the night with 20 saves. Andersen’s stat line since the All-Star break has been ugly. He’s 1-2-2 with a 4.64 goals against and .864 save percentage.
  • Hearing how shocked Babcock was after the game when he said he was disappointed with the team’s readiness to play, I must admit, I was mildly concerned. Babcock is a great motivator, though, so perhaps he’s just trying to light a fire under his players? Or, perhaps I’m trying to talk myself out of being concerned, which is more than likely the case.

    Stat of the Night


    The first period has been crucial for the Maple Leafs this season. The team has a 1-12-2 record when trailing after the first and they have trailed by three or more goals after the first period five times this season (they are 0-5 in those games).

    It’s tough to say exactly what it is, but the Maple Leafs have had trouble starting games this year. You hear Babcock continuously talk about wanting guys to compete, bring energy, play hard, you know, all those good things you expect from a professional hockey player. Unfortunately for the Leafs, they’ve had trouble implementing those intangibles early on in games.

    What’s Next

    The Maple Leafs will complete their four-game home stand on Tuesday night when they welcome the New York Islanders (24-19-10) to the Air Canada Centre. The Islanders lost 3-0 to the Senators on Saturday and play the Avalanche at home on Sunday, which is an odd quirk in the schedule since most teams would play Toronto or Montreal after they played Ottawa.

    You can pretty much say this for every upcoming Leafs game now, but with the Eastern Conference standings being so tight (seven points separates last place from a Wild Card spot), Tuesday’s game is an important one. As of Saturday night, the Islanders are only three points back of the Leafs, while the Flyers, Panthers and Lightning are all nipping at the Leafs’ heels too.

    With 15 home games remaining, the Toronto will need to take care of business on home ice if they are going to earn a playoff spot.

    Next: Should the Leafs Trade for Shattenkirk?

    What did you think of the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.