John Tavares pots two as Leafs beat Sabres 5-3

Goalie McElhinney sharp in relief for Toronto

Toronto Maple Leafs logoTORONTO — John Tavares scored twice in his home Scotiabank Arena exhibition debut as the Maple Leafs beat the Buffalo Sabres, 5-3, on Friday night.

The Mississauga native has now scored twice in both of his games since signing as a free agent from the New York Islanders in the summer.

Curtis McElhinney backstopped Toronto to its third straight victory of this pre-season, stopping all 16 shots he faced after entering the game halfway through the second frame for starter Garret Sparks.

A frantic opening period saw the two teams trade three of the five opening frame goals in the first 1:11 of play,

Andrew Oglevie opened the scoring for the Sabres by slamming home a rebound 30 seconds into the game following a Casey Nelson point shot.

The Buffalo (2-1) lead was short lived as defenceman Ron Hainsey replied a mere 18 seconds later with his own point shot that beat Linus Ullmark on the low glove side.

Toronto’s first lead of the game came 23 seconds later through Pierre Engvall. The Swedish winger fired home from in close after a tape to tape cross crease pass left him all alone in front.

Not even four minutes in and the red light was on once again. This time, Tavares notched his third goal of the pre-season and gave the Leafs (3-0) some breathing room.

Buffalo was able to trim the lead down to one heading into the dressing room. A slight scramble deep in the Maple Leafs defensive zone allowed C.J. Smith to pick up the puck and fire it past Sparks.

Tage Thompson’s first Sabres goal tied the game early on in the second frame. The Phoenix, Ariz. native’s soft hands were on full display, as he dragged the puck around a sprawling Leafs D-man before finding the top corner with an accurate wrist shot.

Chris Mueller’s goal mid-way through the second period proved to be the eventual game winner for Toronto.

The QEW rivalry continues on Saturday, as the Leafs bus to Buffalo and play the second half of their back-to-back at Keybank Centre in downtown Buffalo, puck drop 7:30 p.m.

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Posted: Sep 21 2018 10:41 pm
Filed under: Hockey Sports Toronto Maple Leafs