Miller Outduels Reimer
The Buffalo Sabres remained perfect on the preseason by defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 at the Air Canada Centre last night. With both teams dressing many regulars, as well as having their expected number 1 goalies playing the entire evening, fans were treated to a great preseason tilt. Ryan Miller and James Reimer were outstanding on the night matching each other save for save.
The first two periods were mirror images of each other. The Sabres dominated the first, and headed into the break with a 1-0 lead after a Corey Tropp backhander found a way under Reimer. The second period saw the Leafs attack in waves, eventually finding an equalized through Phil Kessel. On the Kessel goal the Leafs demonstrated, primarily through John Michael Liles, that they will be willing to go to the dirty areas this season in order to beat elite keepers like Miller. Jason Pomminville banged in the game winner on the power play after Leaf captain Dion Phaneuf broke his stick blocking a shot. Close games like this usually end up being decided on an unfortunate play. Hopefully the Leafs can win more of these types of games than they lose this season.
Jake Gardiner, Matt Frattin and Nazem Kadri were impressive on the night. Gardiner made some great passes, and his skating ability is undeniable. However people should remember that with Phaneuf, Schenn, Liles, Franson, Aulie, Gunnarsson and Komisarek on the roster, Gardiner will not make this team regardless of how good he looks. Keith Aulie and Cody Franson noticeably struggled against the Sabres.
Men of the Match
Leafs: John Michael Liles - The new Leaf had a fantastic game, setting up Kessel’s goal and gifting a wide open net to Joffrey Lupul. Liles was a force on the night and will seemingly add a dimension to the offence that has been lacking for a long time.
Sabres: Ryan Miller - A midseason effort by the best goalie in the league. Regardless of the ridiculous amounts of money the Sabres are spending this season, their hopes live and die with Miller. He was the difference on the night.
The Leafs and Sabres hook up in a rematch Saturday night in Buffalo. Hopefully the rematch is as good a game as the opener was.
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