Tyler Myers added a big chapter to his storybook rookie season.
The 19-year old defenceman scored two of Buffalo’s three power-play goals and assisted on the other in the Sabres’ 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night.
“I’m having the time of my life,” said Myers, second among NHL rookies with 26 points. “I was trying pretty hard for that third one, but more importantly we got the win.”
The victory – Buffalo’s sixth straight and 10th in a row against Toronto – was secured by goalie Ryan Miller, who made a career-high 48 saves. Tim Kennedy also scored for Buffalo.
Matt Stajan and John Mitchell scored third-period goals for the Maple Leafs, and Vesa Toskala stopped 28 shots. Toronto has lost four of their last five.
“I really don’t like them. They’re a rival and they’re in our division,” said Miller, who has won all 10 games during the Toronto winning streak. “They constantly talk about how they’re going to rough me up every night. I love nothing more than to get a win against them and send them an hour-and-a-half on their way.”
In the season series, which only has an April 1 meeting in Toronto remaining, Miller has a goals-against average of 1.58 and a .960 save percentage.
Myers scored his fifth and sixth goals from close range against Toskala. On the first, which gave the Sabres a 2-0 lead with 2:21 remaining in the first period, Myers pinched in and took a nice cross-crease pass from Thomas Vanek. The second, 7½ minutes into the second period, was similar, but Tim Connolly’s shot drifted wide as Myers charged in for the tip.
Myers became the first Sabres defenceman with a multigoal game since Jaroslav Spacek scored twice at Philadelphia last Feb. 19.
“They’re giving me the green light to jump up whenever we have the opportunity,” Myers said. “We’re moving the puck quickly and more importantly getting the puck to the net.”
Kennedy opened the scoring 1:27 before Myers’ first tally, wristing a shot past Toskala’s short side. Buffalo’s first two goals came after Toronto’s Rickard Wallin was assessed a double-minor for high-sticking Connolly.
Before that, the Sabres kept the game scoreless as Toronto failed on its first three power plays, the last one coming after Miller was called for roughing Stajan after a goal-crease battle.
“Special teams, right now, that’s all we talk about before the game,” Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. “I think we’re a little bit psyched out.”
“We gave ourselves a chance in the first period before we took the four-minute penalty,” Mitchell added. “Our penalty kill, it killed us obviously.”
Mitchell’s goal got Toronto back to a one-goal deficit with 2:43 left, but Miller made four stops after Toronto used an extra attacker.
“I have a lot of comfort in a close game,” Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. “But the last 10 minutes, I can pick six or seven individuals who turned the puck over for no reason. … Our goaltending made a couple of big saves to help preserve the win.”
Miller, selected to the U.S. Olympic team last week, once again played well against Wilson, who will direct the U.S. team.
NOTES: Buffalo’s 10 straight wins against Toronto tied a franchise mark for longest winning streak against one team. The Sabres beat Washington 10 times in a row between 1981 and 1984. … Connolly had two assists to extend his points streak to a career-best eight games. … Toronto has given up the first goal in 32 of its 45 games. … Toronto C Phil Kessel continued to struggle. In his last 11 games, he has only one goal with no assists and a minus-8 rating.