TORONTO - The Buffalo Bandits playoff hopes grew a bit in size on Friday night, thanks to one of their best wins of the season.
The Bandits started slowly, but went on a 9-0 run to take control of the game against the Toronto Rock. Buffalo finished with a stunning 13-8 win in the Air Canada Centre.
The Bandits don't keep a record for consecutive goals. However, they only have had one longer burst since 2009 - a 10-goal run against New England in 2015.
With the win, Buffalo improved to 6-9 while Toronto is 8-8. The Bandits' task of reaching the postseason still is a very difficult one - especially if they lose in Georgia on Saturday. But they can't be mathematically eliminated this weekend because of the win here.
Buffalo regained its balanced attack, as several players had good offensive performances. At the other end, the Bandits did a fine job of shutting down Toronto after a shaky first quarter.
Different problems: The Bandits' defense had been struggling a few weeks ago, as the team was the league's worst in giving up goals per game. Buffalo has turned that around a bit lately, but suddenly the offense has taken a turn in having problems. Entering Friday's game, Buffalo had scored more than 11 goals only once in its past six starts.
The issues were apparent in the first half of the game with the Rock. Buffalo had trouble completing passes and getting good scoring opportunities. When they did get a chance, Nick Rose usually was there to stop it.
The exception to that against the Rock was Anthony Malcom, who returned to duty. Malcom had two of Buffalo's three goals in the first half.
Goal of the night: The Bandits were two men short in the second half when Malcom found himself with the ball in the Toronto end. The situation didn't look promising, so Malcom just put his head down and headed for the net. He bounced through a small gap created by two Toronto defenders, and beat Rock goalie Rose from close range.
Not the goal of the night: Goalie Anthony Cosmo and transition player David Brock both went after a ball near the Buffalo net. Somehow the ball squirted away from them, and rolled right into the net. The two Bandits could do nothing but watch it go in.
Slow starts: Buffalo fell behind, 4-0, to the Rock. It's the fourth time this season that the Bandits have had that sort of deficit. Just for comparison, Buffalo only trailed by a 4-0 count in eight games from 2009 to 2016.
Quick turnaround: The Rock tied for the worst record in the league last season at 5-13. Toronto has done a good and fast rebuilding job, although it still has some work to do to clinch a playoff spot.
Rookie Tom Schreiber has been a good fit for the Rock. He ranked seventh in the league in scoring entering the weekend, as he has 80 points. That's tops among rookies. Kieran McArdle is fifth in rookie scoring with 29 points.
But Toronto still has some veterans around, like Jesse Gamble, Sandy Chapman, Stephan Leblanc, Kasey Beirnes, Brodie Merrill and Rose.
Roster moves: Buffalo was missing a few regulars for the game. Craig England was out with an unspecified injury, and Tim Edwards was not on the gamenight roster. Alex Kedoh Hill was put on the short-term holdout list. The translation for that is that he missed the Toronto contest for personal reasons.
Matthew Bennett and Malcom were activated and were in the lineup. Bennett's status had been cloudy due to an error at the league office, as he was listed as a free agent but was actually on the injured reserve list.
In the house: A crowd of 12,113 turned out for Fan Appreciation Night.
Up next: The Bandits get right back to work on Saturday night. They play the Georgia Swarm in suburban Atlanta (7 p.m., Radio 550 AM).
The Swarm might be in a generous mood in this one. Georgia wrapped up the NLL East title because of the Toronto loss. That means Georgia will get a week off in the first round of the playoffs.