TORONTO – The road hasn't been kind to the Sabres. Of course, they are making it hard on themselves.
For the third straight road game, Buffalo came out strong and took the lead. This time, it was a 2-0 advantage after one period in Toronto.
The lead disappeared in the second. The Maple Leafs stormed back to earn a 4-3 victory in Air Canada Centre. The Sabres suffered similar losses last week in Tampa Bay and Carolina.
Buffalo fell to 2-5-4 in its last 11 road games and has dropped three of four overall.
Angry exit: Coach Dan Bylsma decided to pull goaltender Robin Lehner after the Leafs' third goal midway through the second period. As Lehner skated to the end of the bench, he appeared to yell at someone on it. He then spiked his mask and tossed his glove before taking a seat.
Ennis sits: One day after making a triumphant return to the Sabres’ lineup, forward Tyler Ennis sat out as a “precautionary scratch.” He missed 30 games because of sports hernia/groin surgery. He scored 19 seconds into his return Monday, helping the Sabres to a 4-1 victory over Dallas.
Ennis’ absence created two new lines. Left wing William Carrier took Ennis’ spot next to center Ryan O’Reilly and right wing Kyle Okposo. Nicolas Deslauriers, scratched Monday, skated with center Cal O’Reilly and right wing Matt Moulson. The lines of Jack Eichel between Marcus Foligno and Sam Reinhart, and Zemgus Girgensons between Evander Kane and Brian Gionta stayed intact.
Give it away: Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen handed the Sabres a 1-0 lead midway through the first period. Carrier helped out. The left winger sped toward the goalie as he played a dump-in, forcing Andersen to hurry his decision. It was a bad one as he gave the puck to Okposo. The Sabres’ All-Star easily ended a five-game goal drought for his 13th of the season.
Toronto’s Mike Babcock issued a coach’s challenge, believing Carrier impeded Andersen’s path back to the net, but the challenge was denied.
Still rolling: Kane continued his hot streak, giving the Sabres a 2-0 lead with 33 seconds left in the first. Gionta put the puck on a tee for Kane, who blasted it past Andersen from above the left circle. The left winger has three goals in five games and 12 in 21.
Don’t like deficits: The Maple Leafs entered the game 0-8-1 when trailing after one period.
No more deficit: Toronto scored all three of the second-period goals to take a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes. The Leafs entered the game 15-1-6 when leading after two periods.
Comeback starts: The Leafs needed just 32 seconds to get their opening goal of the second. Nazem Kadri skated to the left side of the Sabres’ zone and sent the puck to the front. Leo Komarov tipped it near the crease.
Bad angle: Toronto’s second goal was a gift. Matt Martin sent the puck toward the net from the left boards, and Lehner let it trickle through him. The goalie realized he didn’t stop it, but by the time he turned around it was already in the net. The goal came with 8:29 off the clock.
Final straw: Lehner’s night ended with 9:45 gone in the second. Auston Matthews got open in the slot, and the rookie had no problem scoring his 22nd goal. Lehner allowed three goals on 16 shots while starting for the first time on back-to-back days with Buffalo.
Adding on: Zach Bogosian took a holding penalty with 7:12 left, and the Leafs needed just 16 seconds of the power play. James van Riemsdyk roofed a shot with goalie Anders Nilsson down to give the home team a 4-2 lead and delight the 19,122 fans.
Getting close: Carrier cut the Sabres' deficit to 4-3 with 2:23 left. Girgensons lofted a pass to the front, and Carrier knocked it home out of midair. He has scored in three of the last five games.
Milestone: Sabres defenseman Cody Franson played in his 500th NHL game.
Defense scratches: Defenseman Josh Gorges sat for the sixth straight game with a hip injury. Blue-liner Dmitry Kulikov missed his 10th in a row with a back ailment.
Next: The Sabres have a two-day break before another set of back-to-back games. They host the Detroit Red Wings on Friday and visit the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.