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5 Observations: Leafs top Sabres 2-1

5 Observations: Leafs top Sabres 2-1
Posted at 11:13 PM, Nov 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-03 23:13:35-04

Mitch Marner had two goals for the Toronto Maple Leafs and that was all they needed, snapping the Buffalo Sabres three game win streak with a 2-1 win Thursday night. Five observations from Thursday's loss:

Frederik Andersen stands on his head

Thursday the Buffalo Sabres couldn't buy a goal. Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen looked like a man possessed, stopping 42 of Buffalo's 43 shots. His biggest save of the night came with two minutes left in the first period, absolutely robbing Zemgus Girgensons from the side of the net. 

Buffalo finally figured out Andersen a few minutes into the second period -- but were the beneficiaries of a favorable bounce. After that -- Andersen was perfect. Thursday the Sabres played their tenth game of the season and Andersen's performance was the best by a goaltender I've seen so far this year. Frederik Andersen, we are not worthy. 

A lot to like in defeat

Obviously, the Sabres were hoping for a different result, but there was plenty to like in Thursday's loss to the Maple Leafs. The positives start with Buffalo's 43 shots. That is the most shots the Sabres have had this season and they dominated the game early on, outshooting Toronto 15-7 in the first period. In the second period the Maple Leafs rattled off seven shots before the Sabres registered their first -- but still managed to outshoot Toronto in the second 16-15 and again in the third 12-7. Buffalo also was able to make Toronto's two most prolific scorers: Auston Matthews and William Nylander virtually disappear. The duo combined for only five shots on goal and weren't able to find the back of the net. In their first ten games Nylander and Mathews combined for 21 points -- so kudos to the Sabres for quieting them down.

Marner, have yourself a day

There's no denying that Matthews and Nylander are incredible young players but on Thursday Leafs forward Mitch Marner proved he shouldn't be overlooked. Marner scored Toronto's first goal early in the first period after he snuck behind Sabres defender Dmitry Kulikov, beating Robin Lehner back-door. In the second it only took two minutes for Marner to score his second of the night on a very nice individual effort in front of the net. Marner stole the puck from Foligno after his initial save was stopped -- cleaning up the rebound on his second effort. The 19-year-old finished the night with four shots and several chances. Marner, like Matthews and Nylander, will likely be a thorn in the Sabres side for the next decade.

Sam Reinhart: Half hockey player — half wizard

Reinhart (and Foligno) made great plays on Buffalo’s first goal of the night. Reinhardt came flying off the bench, received a perfect pass and fired a shot wide. Foligno then won a battle down low and sent the puck back to Reinhart who send a perfect shot/pass to the front of the net. Larsson was parked right in front of Andersen and was able to tap the puck to a wide-open Foligno who finished things off. If Reinhart doesn’t start the pressure the puck is cleared and the Sabres don’t get the goal.

A few minutes later Reinhart had the puck circling behind the net and sent a beautiful no-look pass to Zemgus Girgensons who was denied point blank by Andersen. Reinhart is an incredible play-maker and while he isn’t scoring as much this year as you would like (one goal in ten games) he is still creating opportunities for his teammates.

Casey Nelson off to a rough start

That may be putting it nicely. Nelson made a few glaring turnovers — including one late in the second period that was hideous. To be fair, it’s Nelson’s first game of the season and only the eighth of his career but this is not how he is going to make a good first impression. With Zach Bogosian “out weeks” the Sabres will have to call up someone from Rochester — but that will likely be the teams seventh defenseman, unless Nelson continues to regress. I really liked the 24-year-old's game in the preseason and his development will take a little time, so be patient because there’s really not any better options right now.

Buffalo won't have to wait long until their next game -- they take on the Senators in Ottawa Saturday night at 7 p.m.