Maple Leafs 4, Sabres 2

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BUFFALO, N.Y. – Jeff O’Neill scored twice and Mats Sundin added two assists, lifting the banged-up Toronto Maple Leafs to a 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.

Alex Steen had a goal and assist, and Pavel Kubina also scored in a game the Maple Leafs never trailed. Sundin’s two assists gave him 495 with Toronto, moving him into third on the team’s career list, two ahead of former captain Dave Keon.

Toronto snapped a two-game losing skid and won on the road for only the third time in nine games (3-5-1). The Leafs (20-19-6) won despite missing six regulars due to injury – including forwards Michael Peca and Darcy Tucker – after defenseman Ian White hurt his shoulder in a 4-1 loss to Carolina on Tuesday.

Chris Drury and Thomas Vanek scored for a Sabres team that was outshot 15-4 in the second period and 28-24 overall. Buffalo came out flat and played sloppily, in part the result of playing games on consecutive nights following a 2-1 win at Chicago on Wednesday.

The Sabres (31-10-3) continue to struggle against Canadian teams based in their Northeast Division. Of Buffalo’s 10 losses that have come in regulation, seven have been against Canadian division opponents, including Toronto twice.

Steen put the Leafs ahead for good 5:20 into the third period, and 21/2 minutes after Drury tied the game at 2 with a power-play goal.

Carlo Colaiacovo, who had two assists, started the play by holding his ground at the right point, preventing the Sabres from clearing their zone. Colaiacovo got off a shot from the right circle and Steen converted the rebound, snapping a shot in that glanced off the glove of goaltender Martin Biron.

The goal extended Steen’s point streak to four games, in which he has five goals and four assists.

O’Neill, set up by Sundin’s centering pass on a transition rush, then scored his second goal five minutes later to seal the win.

The Maple Leafs out-hustled the Sabres all night, and capitalized on numerous Buffalo mistakes.

The Leafs opened the scoring 21 seconds into the second period when Sundin, at the left circle, intercepted Toni Lydman’s weak clearing pass from deep in Buffalo’s end. Sundin turned and sent a pass across to O’Neill, who snapped it in the open side.

Notes: Center Travis Green made his Maple Leafs’ debut a day after being claimed off waivers from Anaheim. This is Green’s second stint with Toronto after playing with the team from 2001-03. … The Sabres went 2-for-6 with the man-advantage, the first time they’ve scored two power-play goals in 10 games. … The Leafs opened a stretch in which they play nine of their next 11 games on the road.

AP-ES-01-11-07 2141EST

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