When the Toronto Maple Leafs boarded the bus for home Monday night, it wouldn't have been a surprise to see Sam Reinhart sitting in front of Frederik Andersen. Reinhart was the goaltender's face all night.
He was also on the score sheet again.
Reinhart's second-half surge was on display from the start of Buffalo's 5-3 victory to the finish. The right winger tipped in the opening goal from the top of the crease with 1:53 gone. He went to the penalty box for interfering with Andersen with 3:46 to play.
In between, Reinhart made a beeline for the cage. Others followed suit in the upset win.
"We made it difficult at their net and had some success there," Reinhart said in KeyBank Center.
The success continued for Reinhart. He recorded his 16th goal and 20th assist. The majority have come since mid-January. Reinhart has nine goals, 14 assists and 23 points in the last 22 games, making up for the lost time in the beginning of the year.
"He's really determined right now whether it's his wall play in his own end or going to the net in the offensive zone," coach Phil Housley said. "He's paying a price to score goals, and he's getting rewarded for it."
About 10 games into Reinhart's hot streak, he said nothing had changed from the beginning of the year. Now that the stretch is more than a quarter of the season, he expanded the answer.
"I'm moving my feet, holding onto the puck, just playing naturally," Reinhart said. "I think I use my knowledge of the game to my advantage, but when I overthink things it doesn't go too well for me or doesn't go as well for me. I've just been able to relax and just play hockey and be more comfortable on the ice."
It's made things uncomfortable for opposing goalies, as Andersen learned.
"Reino the last 30 games has been on absolute fire," Sabres left wing Zemgus Girgensons said. "It's fun to play with him."
In a lost season, nearly all of the Sabres had fun beating Toronto. The stands were again filled with border-crossing Leafs backers, and shouts of "Go, Leafs, Go" echoed through the arena.
When the Sabres gathered at center ice for a postgame celebration, the only noise was from fans wearing blue and gold.
"Obviously, it's tough for us to go through this last little bit, but we're trying to build something," Reinhart said. "We're trying to improve and keep this consistent play going.
"If we get an atmosphere like this any time, especially on this ice and put a good product out for them, that's motivation enough for us. It's nice that we were able to do that."
The Sabres improved to 4-2 in their last six games, which includes victories over Tampa Bay, Boston and Toronto – the top three teams in the Atlantic Division. The wins over the Lightning and Bruins were good for the mind. The victory over Toronto was good for the soul.
"It's always fun games to play against them, and it feels good to beat them," Girgensons said.
The game was a highlight reel for Housley's mantra of shot mentality. Reinhart and Jason Pominville tipped shots by Rasmus Ristolainen in the opening 3:43 to make it 2-0. Girgensons gave Buffalo a 3-1 lead when Reinhart's pass hit his skate. Johan Larsson put Buffalo up, 5-2, by chasing down a Pominville rebound.
"It was really important to get some net-front presence in there and have a shot mentality," Housley said. "It just came down to we got off to a good start. We started on time against an opponent where we knew where they were coming off three losses in a row.
"We got the good start we needed."
They also got all the good breaks. It led to two-point nights for Larsson, Reinhart, Pominville, Ristolainen and Ryan O'Reilly.
It was also a two-point night for the Sabres and a no-point night for the Leafs.
"It was definitely one of those games where the bounces were coming our way, but I think we put in the work to deserve them," Girgensons said. "That's how it should be."