Marcus Foligno scored the only goal of the game for the Sabres. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

Marcus Foligno was in good defensive position, in front of his own net ready to play the puck away. But he made a mistake. He fumbled the puck and Toronto's Mitchell Marner pounced to score his second of the game and give the Maple Leafs a 2-0 lead.

Foligno didn't waste time making up for the miscue.

About four minutes later he found himself all alone in front of the Toronto net and put a tip past goalie Frederik Andersen. The tally put the Buffalo Sabres on the board and give the team, and its fans, life in the second period in KeyBank Center.

It wasn't enough as the Sabres dropped a 2-1 decision to the Leafs Thursday night, but it was another strong game for the left winger playing with Johan Larsson and Brian Gionta.

 

"I thought he played a strong game, a real strong game," Dan Bylsma said. "Skated physical. He was not denied on the first goal had a chance on the great save by Anderson there in the second. He was a part of the play of their second goal in front of the net, which we had good defensive position but we get it on our stick and it kinda gets fumbled and tees it up for them for the game winner."

On that goal which proved to be the game-winner, Foligno read the pass from James van Riemsdyk behind the net and got to the puck in front of Sabres goalie Robin Lehner. But Marner was streaking in behind him and Foligno lost the puck.

"I thought I did (have more time)," Foligno said. "I tried to make a little bit cuter play than maybe I should have. I should have just threw it in the corner. He came in flying. I saw van Riemsdyk and where he wanted to go with it. I was in the right position but I just didn't get rid of the puck fast enough."

On his next shift, his line applied some good pressure in the Toronto zone and when a line change brought Sam Reinhart on the ice, it set up Foligno's second goal of the season.

"We worked really hard to maintain the puck in the zone. Good strength on the puck in the corners," Foligno said. "We had a change so Reinhardt came back out, fresh legs took the puck, got a good shot on net, tip in by Larsson and I was lucky to be alone and pretty much in the crease to put it home."

Foligno nearly scored again at the 8:50 mark of the second, getting the puck with a wide open net, but Andersen got the blocker part of his glove on the shot to deflect it high.

"That diving glove save on me, you lift your head up, look to the sky. It’s his night," Foligno said of Andersen who made 42 saves.

Foligno finished with four shots, plus three hits and two blocks for good measure. His line accounted for nine shots and had jump all game long.

"We like playing together. We have fun out there together. That’s the way we have to play every night," Foligno said. "I have a great leader with Gio on my right side and Larry in the middle. It’s fun to play with those guys every night. We work hard. We shut down top lines. Just have to keep playing like that and we expect more from ourselves."

***

William Nylander  was named the National Hockey League's Rookie of the Month for October, leading all first-year players with 11 points in 10 games.

But the 20-year-old came off a bit underwhelmed with the honor.

"Well I mean it was just a nice thing to get," he said early Thursday afternoon in KeyBank Center. "We’ve got to keep working. We want to win in the end so I think the award doesn’t really matter right now and I just want to keep moving forward and play well."

 

If Nylander knows where his game has improved, he's keeping the answer close to the vest.

"I don’t know, it’s just over the summer you grow and stuff," Nylander said. "I don’t know what it would be."

Part of it certainly comes from his linemates, which include Auston Matthews and fellow rookie Zach Hyman. The trio combined for seven shots but were held off the score sheet Thursday night. While the line may be young, Toronto coach Mike Babcock has noticed a professionalism in the way the kids carry themselves.

"They’re real business like. That’s what I find about kids today, they’re business like anyway," Babcock said. "The fun’s when you’re doing what you love to do, you’re winning and you’re doing well individually. I think they’re doing great. Do we have lots to learn together? A hundred percent but I think they’re enjoying the national league."

***

Faceoffs continue to be a bright spot for the Sabres, who won 63 percent in Thursday's game with Ryan O'Reilly winning 21 of the 28 faceoffs he took (75 percent). ... Foligno has a point in each of his last three games against the Maple Leafs. ... Larsson has seven points (three goals, four assists) in seven career games against Toronto.

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