The Buffalo Sabres closed the preseason in exciting fashion Sunday night, rallying for a 7-6 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.
Thomas Vanek's second goal of the game at 12:37 of the third broke a 5-5 tie, and Matt Ellis scored what proved to be the game-winner on a backhander 92 seconds later as the Sabres scored four times in the final 20 minutes to overcome a 4-3 deficit.
West Seneca's Lee Stempniak scored twice for the Leafs, his second tying the game at 5 at 6:15 after South Buffalo's Tim Kennedy had given the Sabres their second lead of the game at 2:27 of the third. Kennedy's goal came 1:12 after Jochen Hecht's wrap-around shot tied it.
Patrick Lalime made 21 saves to earn the win for Buffalo, which opens the regular season at HSBC Arena on Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens. The Sabres closed the preseason 4-1-1.
The Maple Leafs raced to a 2-0 lead in the first on goals by Viktor Stahlberg and Stempniak.
The Sabres scored the next three goals in a span of 5:35 in the second period. Clarke MacArthur scored off assists from Kennedy and Jason Pominville at 7:03. Nathan Gerbe tied it and Vanek gave Buffalo the lead with a power-play goal.
Before the game, the Maple Leafs returned first-round pick Nazem Kadri to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. He had two goals and three assists in six preseason games.