Maple Leafs drop 6th straight after blowing 2-goal lead vs. Sabres
Reinhart scores SO winner after Eichel helps force OT
The Maple Leafs keep losing, but not by much.
Toronto dropped its sixth straight game on Monday night, a 4-3 shootout loss to the visiting Buffalo Sabres at the Air Canada Centre that marked their fifth consecutive one-goal defeat.
"It sucks," said Leo Komarov, who scored in the loss. "The last five games we've got a chance to win in every game and then when you keep losing it's [tough]."
The Leafs have lost 22 of their last 27 games (5-18-4) and remain last in the NHL with 53 points.
Monday's game was one they could have won. Toronto held a 3-1 lead entering the final period, but saw that melt away when Jack Eichel and Evander Kane scored less than four minutes apart.
This was a game we were in total control of. I thought we had the puck more. I thought we did more good things.- Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock on 4-3 shootout loss to Sabres
The latter goal was the result of a failed handoff from Morgan Rielly to Nazem Kadri just out front of Garret Sparks in the Leafs net. Sam Reinhart picked the puck free and found Kane for the game-tying goal.
Reinhart then added the shootout winner.
"This was a game we were in total control of," Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. "I thought we had the puck more. I thought we did more good things. And we still found a way not to get the points we wanted. That part's disappointing. To give up the lead there, there was no reason to give up the lead."
The victory for Buffalo snapped a string of six straight shootout losses.
While continuing to lose, Toronto also keeps landing contributions from its youth.
Twenty-three-year-old rookie Zach Hyman scored his first NHL goal, pushing a second-effort attempt by Sabres goaltender Chad Johnson late in the middle period.
Babcock has been enthused by how hard Hyman, a Toronto area native, seems to play.
"I don't know how much he's ever going to score," Babcock said. "But he's going to be able to penalty kill and play a regular shift and play with good players and get them the puck back."
Every team is mad at him every night. I like that a lot.- Babcock on rookie forward Nikita Soshnikov
Twenty-two-year-old Nikita Soshnikov added his first career NHL assist against the Sabres. Soshnikov also mustered eight shot attempts and three hits in nearly 14 minutes.
He drew the ire of the Sabres Josh Gorges at one point for his rambunctious play.
"Every team is mad at him every night," Babcock said. "I like that a lot."
Soshnikov set up Komarov for the game's first goal, connecting just 25 seconds into the first period. The two broke in on an odd-man rush against Johnson with Soshnikov drawing in Sabres defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen before feeding Komarov, who tallied his 19th goal this season.
Soshnikov was forced to briefly exit the action shortly after. He tumbled into the boards after a collision with Sabres defenceman Jake McCabe, remaining down on the ice for a few brief moments before being helped to the Toronto dressing room.
He returned to finish the game.
Milan Michalek made his Leafs debut, totalling one shot in nearly 13 minutes.