Mats Sundin scored twice and added an assist as the Toronto Maple Leafs dealt the Buffalo Sabres their first regulation-time loss of the season, a 4-1 pounding Saturday night in Buffalo.
Jeff O'Neill and Darcy Tucker also had goals for the Leafs (8-5-3), who have won four of their last five games, whileAlexei Ponikarovsky chipped in a pair of helpers and Andrew Raycroft stopped29 shots.
"He's our captain and a huge part of our hockey club," Darcy Tucker said of Sundin. "He's the leader of our team, and goes out and plays hard every night. Tonight was just a phenomenal game."
Jochen Hecht scored the only goal for the Sabres, who got29 saves from Ryan Miller.
It was the firstgame this seasonin whichBuffalo (11-1-1) failed to earn at least a point. Their only other loss came in a shootout against the Atlanta Thrashers last Saturday.
It was also just the fifth time the Sabres have lost to the Leafs in the teams' past 23 meetings in Buffalo.
"Make no mistake about it, they dodged some bullets this year," Toronto centre Michael Peca said. "This bullet hit them. There's two angles— it's either a major upset or they're going to lose one eventually, so no big deal."
Maxim Afinogenov, whowent into the game tied with Atlanta's Marian Hossa for second place in the NHL scoring race, left in the first period with what was described as an upper-body injury and did not return.
Top line leads Leafs
Hecht opened the scoring 7:07 into the game. Cutting in on goal from the right wing,he held off Leafs defenceman Brendan Bell with one hand and shovelled the puck past Raycroft with the other.
Toronto got an excellent opportunity to tie the game off an odd-man rush with under six minutes remaining. Kyle Wellwood stripped Buffalo defenceman Toni Lydman of the puck at the Leafs' blue-line and sent a pass over to Ponikarovsky, who found a trailing Sundin for an open-net chance. But a hustling Lydman atoned for his miscue by sliding into the crease to block Sundin's low shot.
The Leafs' top line made good later in the first as Wellwood threw the puck on net and Sundin got his stick on it to deflect it past Miller.
Pass finds Tucker
Toronto used a two-man advantage to take the lead at 9:20 of the second. Operating from the left point, Sundin faked a slapshot and slid a pass through a maze of players in front of the net to Tucker, who was camped beside the post for an easy tap-in.
The Leafs went up 3-1 when, working behind the Sabres' net, Matt Stajan found O'Neill near the hash marks for a one-timer.
Toronto struck again less than a minute later as Sundin and defenceman Ian White worked a give-and-go that ended with the Leafs captain roofing a shot from point-blank range.
The Leafs outshot the Sabres 17-4 in the second period to take a commanding 4-1 lead into the dressing room.
"For us, we're still looking for an identity and consistency to be a good team in this league," said Sundin, whose second multi-goal game of the season gave him eight points in his last four games.
"I thought tonight we were a good team. It's been up and down for us lately, so hopefully this is a step in the right direction for this club."
Penalties to Bates Battaglia and former Sabres captain Mike Peca gave Buffalo a two-man advantage at 5:11 of the third. But the Sabres couldn't capitalize, effectively ending their hopes of duplicating Thursday's comeback win from a 4-1 deficitin Boston.