How do you silence thousands of Toronto fans? Score, score and score again.
That's exactly what the Buffalo Sabres did Sunday night as Jack Eichel's power-play goal snapped a third-period tie and sparked a three-goal explosion in a 91-second span to produce a 5-2 victory over the Maple Leafs in KeyBank Center.
The Sabres (27-24-8) won their third straight game and improved to 4-1 over a five-game stretch for the first time since October.
Buffalo finished its long run of home games after the All-Star break with a 4-4-1 record, bouncing back to finish it even after losing five of the first six. The Sabres are eight points behind the Leafs in the battle for third place in the Atlantic Division and the final playoff spot. They have a game in hand.
Buffalo pulled even with Montreal for fifth place in the division with two games in hand, and is four points behind Florida for fourth.
The sellout crowd of 19,070 was heavily tilted in favor of Leafs fans and Toronto had all the momentum – and the crowd support – as Zach Hyman's tip-in at 2:11 of the third period got the visitors even at 2-2.
But Eichel snapped the tie at 6:06 on a one-timer after a neat feed from Victor Olofsson. It was Eichel's 33rd goal of the season and his 14th in 17 career games against the Leafs.
More quick strikes: Kyle Okposo scored at 6:55 after working the puck around rookie defenseman Rasmus Sandin, and Jimmy Vesey scored at 7:37 after great work down low by Rasmus Ristolainen. Okposo's goal was his 500th NHL point. And that was that.
The net results: Until the Sabres' decisive outburst, Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen was having a sensational game. Buffalo had a 16-6 advantage in shots on goal during a scoreless first period and the count was 28-12 through 40 minutes. It ended 36-22. Meanwhile, Buffalo's Carter Hutton – who went from Oct. 22 to Feb. 1 without a win – has suddenly won four straight.
The season series: After losing all four games to the Leafs last season and enduring a sweep for the first time in franchise history, the Sabres finished 2-1-1 against Toronto this year and won both games at home.
Making the breakthrough: The Sabres opened the scoring at 1:32 of the second period as Johan Larsson banged home his sixth goal of the season, beating Andersen to the puck off the back boards after Colin Miller's shot from the point whizzed wide.
Miller makes his point again: The Sabres made it 2-0 at 9:42 of the period when Conor Sheary tipped home Miller's shot from the blue line, tipping the puck out of midair past Andersen for his ninth goal of the season.
Leafs respond: Toronto finally got its fans juiced up at 11:29 as Yegor Korshkov, just called up earlier in the day from the Toronto Marlies to make his NHL debut, one-timed home a Jason Spezza pass after a turnover inside the blue line by Sabres defenseman Henri Jokiharju.
Dahlin meter: Rasmus Dahlin assisted on the Larsson goal for his 35th point of the second and 79th of his career. That ties Hall of Famer Ray Bourque for the second-most points recorded by an NHL defenseman before his 20th birthday. He now trails only former coach Phil Housley (132).
Close call: The Sabres thought they had scored first on a Vesey wraparound with 2:10 left in the first period as the puck jumped on to Andersen's pad just inside the goal line. It was called no goal on the ice and the call stood on video review because there was no conclusive evidence to overturn it.
Lineup card: The Sabres scratched forward Michael Frolik, who has been battling the flu. Defenseman John Gilmour and goalie Andrew Hammond, both recalled Saturday from Rochester, also were scratched.
Next: The Sabres will return to the arena to practice Monday morning and will then hit the road for Ottawa, where they will meet the Senators on Tuesday night. Faceoff for that game is going to be around 7:50 p.m. because of a pregame ceremony to retire the jersey of longtime Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips.