They came. They saw. They went home depressed.
Fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs helped make KeyBank Center a rollicking place Saturday night, but Buffalo backers had the most fun – as usual. The Sabres repeatedly lifted their fans out of the seats with a 5-2 victory.
Buffalo improved to 18-2-1 in its last 21 home games against the Maple Leafs. The Sabres are 69-26-8 all time against Toronto downtown.
Multipoint attack: The Sabres had five players with at least two points, led by Jack Eichel's two-goal, one-assist outing. The center has 23 goals, 30 assists and 53 points in 54 games.
Ryan O'Reilly and Dmitry Kulikov had a goal and assist each, while Kyle Okposo and Tyler Ennis each had two assists. It was Ennis' first multipoint game since Oct. 24, 2015.
Lit: Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner made 32 saves. His biggest allowed the Sabres to keep a 4-2 lead midway through the second. Mitch Marner was so wide-open in front that the goal light went on after he shot, but Lehner made the stop.
Home cooking: O’Reilly continued his hot play in Buffalo, getting both of his points in the first period as the Sabres built a 2-1 lead. O’Reilly has reached the score sheet in 16 of the last 19 home games, putting up eight goals and 15 assists.
O’Reilly staked the Sabres to a 1-0 lead with 7:05 off the clock off a spinning pass from Ennis. After an 11-game skid without a point, Ennis has points in two of the last three.
Bang, bang: The Leafs tied the game with 9:30 gone. Lehner stopped Leo Komarov’s point-blank blast, but Jake McCabe pushed the puck to Connor Brown for an easy putback.
The tie lasted a whopping 15 seconds. Evander Kane outbattled Leafs defenseman Matt Hunwick in front of the net, allowing him to get to Zach Bogosian’s rebound and bring the Buffalo fans back out of their seats for a 2-1 lead.
That hurts: Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen made 14 saves during the first period, but he didn’t come out for the second because of an upper-body injury. Curtis McElhinney replaced Andersen, and the Sabres pounced for three goals in the second to take a 5-2 lead.
Young guns: Auston Matthews tied Wendel Clark's record for goals by a Toronto rookie, scoring his 34th with 2:22 gone in the second. William Nylander earned an assist on the tying goal, extending his point streak to 11 games.
Three in a row: Eichel and the Sabres’ power play each struck twice as the home team turned the 2-2 tie into a 5-2 lead. Eichel made it 3-2 and 5-2. His first goal was a power-play rocket from the left circle. His second goal was a low shot from the right circle.
After the second tally, he skated to the boards and punched the glass in front of Leafs fans.
Slo-mo of Jack Eichel's celebration with the Leafs fans pic.twitter.com/0pPP1eVI65
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) March 26, 2017
Doubling up: With two points in 3:12, Kulikov doubled his season output. He earned his second assist in 40 games by setting up Eichel’s first goal. Kulikov scored his second of the year with a power-play blast that made it 4-2.
Back in blue: As expected, the Sabres added four pieces to their lineup. Okposo returned after missing 10 games with a rib injury, while left wing William Carrier (knee) came back after sitting for 24 games. Kulikov had missed nine games with a concussion, while Justin Falk returned after sitting four games with a calf ailment.
With Rasmus Ristolainen serving the first of his three-game suspension, Buffalo recalled defenseman Brady Austin from Rochester for his third straight NHL game. The Sabres sent forward Hudson Fasching back to the Amerks.
Milestones: Kulikov skated in his 500th NHL game. The opening 460 came with the Florida Panthers. Toronto’s Nazem Kadri played in his 400th game.
Next: The Sabres will return with back-to-back outings. They host the Florida Panthers on Monday, and they’ll visit the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.