TORONTO, ON — John Tavares scored at 1:45 of overtime and picked up his 400th NHL assist as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Saturday night.
Tavares’ 10th goal of the season helped Toronto improve to 4-1-0 in its last five games. William Nylander also scored for the Maple Leafs (13-11-4). Frederik Andersen made 29 saves in victory.
Rasmus Ristolainen scored for Buffalo (12-10-5). Carter Hutton made 41 saves in defeat and fell to 0-5-3 in his last eight games.
The game marked the home-coaching debut for Sheldon Keefe. The former NHLer from Brampton was named head coach of the Maple Leafs on Nov. 20 after the team dismissed Mike Babcock.
"A lot of my family in the building today," Keefe said before the game. "I grew up in the area, obviously. So from that sense, it's special and I'm happy to share it with my family."
The Maple Leafs outshot the Sabres 11-8 in the opening period. The best scoring chance for either team in the period came when Sabres forward Sam Reinhart's shot from the circle hit the post at 7:31.
The Maple Leafs opened the scoring in the second period.
Nylander went to the net after receiving a pass from Auston Matthews. He deked Hutton and shot the puck over his shoulder and into the net for the power-play goal at 5:30. Tavares picked up his milestone assist on the goal.
The Sabres had several chances to score in the period. Andersen made a glove save on a shot by Connor Sheary at 11:50. The play was reviewed as part of Andersen's glove appeared to be over the line, but the review was inconclusive. Later in the period, Jeff Skinner had a chance from the slot while Andersen lost control of his stick, but Andersen made the save at 18:31. Victor Olofsson's shot from the circle hit the post at 19:09.
The Maple Leafs outshot the Sabres 16-11 in the second period.
Buffalo tied the score in the third period. Rasmus Ristolainen scored his second goal after he saw a clear path to the net while trying to find a player open. He cut across the net and beat Andersen on the blocker side at 6:58.
Tavares scored the winning goal past Hutton from long range.
NOTES: The Sabres went 0 for 2 on the power play. They now have just one goal with the man advantage in their last 37 opportunities.
Sabres: Host New Jersey Devils on Monday.
Maple Leafs: At Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.