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5 Observations: Sabres take down Maple Leafs 3-1

5 Observations: Sabres take down Maple Leafs 3-1
Posted at 10:48 PM, Feb 11, 2017
The Buffalo Sabres pulled within five points of the playoffs on Saturday night with a 3-1 win over the division rival Toronto Maple Leafs. Robin Lehner stopped 43 of the 44 shots he faced, while Evander Kane scored twice and Jack Eichel tallied three assists. 
Five Observations from Saturday's win:
 
STOP TALKING ABOUT TRADING EVANDER KANE
 
On Saturday Kane scored twice in the first period and now leads the Sabres in goals with 18. Kane has 11 points in the Sabres last ten games and 28 points this season. 
 
In case you forgot (you probably didn't), Kane missed the first month after suffering an injury in the season-opener. When the 25-year-old forward returned he just couldn't find the back of the net and went 11 games without a goal. Since he has 18 goals in 32 games. Eventually, you'd imagine he'll slow down, but after Saturday's game, Kane is on pace to finish the season with 29 goals in 71 games. 
Those goals are exactly why General Manager Tim Murray traded for Kane. Earlier in the week, Murray said on WGR 550 that he isn't actively shopping the second-year Sabre, so unless Murray gets an unbelievable offer, I don't think he's going anywhere.
 
Good, he shouldn't.
 
Kane is playing well and the Sabres need someone who can score goals. Yes, they absolutely could use a top-four defender, but I don't want to see Kane sent somewhere for that return. If he keeps this up and it doesn't look he'll resign the Sabres should be able to get a pretty penny next season, assuming he has no more off-ice issues. 
 
The wrist looks fine, eh? 
 
Jack, the giver 
 
Jack Eichel dominated in the first period and had an assist on all three Sabres goals. One of the assists came after he won a face-off, but the other were pretty passes to Okposo to lead a breakout and another to tee-up Kane for his second goal of the night. 
 
Eichel, like Kane, has been extremely hot and now has 14 points in 13 games, including six multi-point contests. 
 
Keep the Kane-Eichel-Reinhart line together, they're creating a lot of chances. 
 
We saw that coming
 
Lately, the Sabres have been allowing a lot of shots to their opponents. Actually, that may be an understatement because in Buffalo's last six games they've allowed an average of 39 shots against per game. 
 
On Saturday the Sabres got peppered once again, allowing 44 Maple Leafs shots. The good news for the Sabres, Robin Lehner was dynamite. 
 
MVP - Robin Lehner 
 
Robin Lehner is continuing to play some pretty unbelievable hockey. In Buffalo's last outing Lehner allowed four goals, but he faced 44 shots. Aside from Anaheim's fourth goal, I didn't think Lehner was all that bad, so he gets a pass. 
 
Against the Maple Leafs Lehner looked locked-in and made some really pretty saves. His best came in the second period on Leafs forward Tyler Bozak, who had the upper-half of the net open until Lehner flared his pad into the air. 
 
He robbed Bozak again in the third period from point blank for another gem. These were just two of the 43 shots he turned away, in one of his best games of the year. All night it just looked like he wasn't getting beat. After the game, Lehner said the one goal that did sneak past him was a lucky bounce. 
All-season Lehner has been criticized by many, including myself, but he's keeping the Sabres in games. 
 
With another back-to-back, I'd expect Nilsson in net against Vancouver on Sunday. 
 
Rodrigues' Homecoming 
 
Sabres forward Evan Rodrigues grew up 15 minutes from Air Canada Center. On Saturday he played in front of friends in family in a game he'll cherish for the rest of his career. 

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