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Sulzer has one 'crazy night' in win

The most chaotic game by a Sabres player on the most bizarre night of the season? Has to be defenseman Alexander Sulzer's.

He had his first two-goal game in the NHL. His first three-point game too. He was on the ice for seven goals (four by Buffalo) in the 6-5 overtime win against Toronto and was burned twice as the Leafs seemingly put the Sabres away in the third period. With special-teams goals, he ended up with an even rating.

"It was a crazy night," Sulzer said with a pained smile.

In 88 previous NHL games for Nashville, Vancouver and Buffalo, Sulzer had just two goals. He has three goals and eight points in 15 games for the Sabres since being acquired on deadline day from Vancouver.

Sulzer was most frustrated by Clarke MacArthur's goal early in the third period. MacArthur gave Sulzer a push to get open at the goalmouth and took a perfect Joey Crabb pass at the edge of the crease.

"That's my man," Sulzer said. "I just have to control his stick, take him away and get better body position and they won't be able to score the goal."

Sulzer also fruitlessly chased defenseman Jake Gardiner all the way around the net before the rookie beat Ryan Miller to put the Leafs up, 5-3, with 9:21 to go.

But Sulzer's second goal of the night, a poke-in from the crease, got upheld of video review with 5:03 left and got Buffalo within 5-4.

"We had our backs against the wall and the puck was free all the time," he said. "You never give up and I just poke-checked it in. I knew it [was a goal] right away. I saw it going over the line."

In a game full of goalmouth scrambles and tap-ins, Sulzer got one of the night's rare pretty goals with a quick snapshot at 10:44 of the second period to get the Sabres within 3-2.

"I just saw a lane," he said. "I didn't even see the goalie [Toronto's Ben Scrivens] so I was hoping he couldn't see me, too."

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What did Ryan Miller think of the whacky 10-second scrum that resulted in the Sabres' tying goal?

"I think the ref [Mike Hasenfratz] actually did a good job," Miller said. "He wasn't giving quick whistles the entire night. He was consistent. I kind of noticed that. He was kind of right over it.... [Scrivens] made no indication he had the puck.

"I think it's the right play by the referee. Now if the shoe's on the other foot, maybe I'm a little bit ticked. I'm going to try to at least show or fake I have the puck or something."

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The Sabres broke their franchise record for paid attendance per game with Tuesday's sellout crowd of 18,690. It brought the final average to 18,687, topping the previous team record of 18,272 per game set in 2009-10. The only non-sellout was Nov. 2 against Philadelphia (391 tickets shy).

The Sabres actually sold out every game in the 2006-07 season but the paid attendance was lower because there were more complimentary tickets for players, staff and sponsors.

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The Sabres have agreed to terms with forward Dan Catenacci on a three-year entry level contract and goaltender Connor Knapp on a two-year entry-level contract. Both take effect next season and both players joined Rochester on Tuesday on amateur tryouts. Catenacci got three years at $605,000 per season while Knapp's two years are at $595,000 per season.

The 5-foot-9, 190-pound Catenacci was the team's third-round pick in last June's draft. He finished second on the Ontario Hockey League's Owen Sound Attack with 72 points (33 goals, 39 assists) in 67 games.

The 6-foot-6, 222-pound Knapp just completed a stellar senior year at Miami of Ohio, posting career bests in wins (15), goals-against average (1.69), save percentage (.933) and shutouts (5). He was Buffalo's sixth-round pick in 2009.

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The Sabres narrowly averted losing the home leg of a home-and-home against Toronto for the first time since Dec. 20, 1970. They are 9-1-2 (two ties) in such games. ... The Sabres improved to 5-4 in overtime goals this season, with four of the game-winners coming on the power play. ... The Sabres' 19 shots in the second period tied their season high, last set Jan. 31 at Montreal. The 13-shot differential was the biggest of the season for any period. ... Brad Boyes was a healthy scratch. ... Defenseman Robyn Regehr appeared in his 900th career game.

e-mail: mharrington@buffnews.com