TORONTO -- West Seneca native and Nichols School product Chris Mueller stung his hometown team Friday night, scoring the tiebreaking goal in the second period to snap a tie and send the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 5-3 preseason win over the Buffalo Sabres.
The game was played before 18,833 in the newly-named Scotiabank Arena, formerly Air Canada Centre. It was the Leafs' first home appearance of the preseason and they improved to 3-0 overall. The Sabres fell to 2-1.
Mueller's goal came unassisted at 10:55 of the second period. Just off a faceoff in the Buffalo end, Mueller pickpocketed defenseman Brendan Guhle to the left of the goal and jammed his own rebound under Linus Ullmark for his first goal of the preseason.
Mueller, 32, had 19 goals and 33 assists last year for the Calder Cup champion Toronto Marlies. The Michigan State product has played 651 career games in the AHL and 53 in the NHL for Nashville, Dallas and the New York Rangers. He has three NHL goals in his career, the last coming with New York in 2015.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) September 22, 2018
The lineup: The Sabres forward lines were Alexander Nylander-Casey Mittelstadt-Tage Thompson, Zemgus Girgensons-Vladimir Sobotka-Andrew Oglevie, C.J. Smith-Kevin Porter-Nicholas Baptiste, Victor Olofsson-Rasmus Asplund-Eric Cornel.
The defense pairs were Brendan Guhle-Casey Nelson, Lawrence Pilut-Matt Tennyson and Brandon Hickey-Zach Redmond. Ullmark went the distance in goal, making 27 saves.
Tage takes the stage: For solo efforts in the preseason, there's Jack Eichel's short-handed breakaway tally Tuesday against Pittsburgh and Thompson's solo beauty in the second period Friday that got the Sabres even at 3-3.
Thompson stole an errant pass at his own blue line and whipped home a wrist shot at 6:08 after a neat toe drag on Toronto defenseman Connor Carrick.
Fast start: The Sabres opened the scoring after just 30 seconds when Ogelvie banged home a Nelson rebound for his second goal of the preseason.
Fast response: The Leafs roared back with three goals in the next 3:12 to take a 3-1 lead. Ron Hainsey's floater from the point 18 seconds after Ogelvie's goal made it 1-1, Pierre Envgall put Toronto ahead at 1:11 and John Tavares drove home a rebound at 3:42 to make it 3-1.
Big night for Leafs: The game marked the home debut of native son Tavares, who electrified the fan base by signing a seven-year, $77-million contract on July 1 after spending the first nine years of his career with the New York Islanders. There was a huge roar when Tavares was announced in the starting lineup and a bigger one on his goal, his third of the preseason. He then added an empty-netter with 43 seconds left to clinch the win.
Patience personified: The Sabres got within 3-2 at 11:28 of the first on a nifty goal by Smith, who took the puck near the right-wing boards, cut across the slot and held-held-held it until he had goalie Garrett Sparks down and an open net to shoot at.
Saturday night in Buffalo: The Leafs have already announced their lineup for the teams' rematch Saturday in KeyBank Center (7 p.m., MSG, Radio 550) and it features the likes of Auston Matthews, Patrick Marleau and starting goaltender Frederik Andersen. The Sabres are expected to field mostly an NHL lineup, with expected participants including Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner, Rasmus Dahlin and Rasmus Ristolainen.
The Sabres will skate in the arena at 10:30 a.m. The big question will be if Sam Reinhart makes his preseason debut after signing his new contract on Wednesday.
Second case of Moulson ... on waivers: The NHL's preseason waiver period has opened and the Sabres have put Matt Moulson on waivers in likely anticipation of once again loaning him to the AHL's Ontario Reign if he clears.
Moulson, 34, remains Sabres property. He has a $5 million cap hit for one more season and the team would be on the hook for $3.975 million if he clears and is returned to Ontario, the top farm club of the Los Angeles Kings. Moulson had 18 goals and 28 assists in 49 games there last season on loan.
Several former Sabres also hit the waiver wire Friday. The list includes T.J. Brennan and Phil Varone (Philadelphia) and the St. Louis trio of Jordan Nolan, Brian Flynn and Chris Butler. Nolan, son of former Sabres coach Ted Nolan, had four goals and four assists in 69 games for Buffalo last season.
Local stripes: One of the referees for Friday's game was Sanborn native Brandon Schrader, a 24-year-old who graduated from Niagara University in May. Schrader, who played for the Wheatfield Blades and Niagara-Wheatfield High School, is slated to work in the AHL this season. As part of that assignment, he was given five NHL preseason games.