Sabres dig deep for win

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

Lindy Ruff ran the table on Pat Quinn last night, leaving the Maple Leafs behind the 8-ball.

His Buffalo Sabres' 8-4 victory put them 14 points ahead of the Leafs and gave Ruff a 284-283 edge in coaching victories with their current clubs.

But the best and most significant part of the evening for Ruff was watching his team fend off a desperate effort from the hometown Leafs in the second period and pot eight goals just 48 hours after losing leading scorer Tim Connolly for two months with a bad knee sprain.

"We had so many guys step up," Ruff said before boarding a bus last night. "We have some holes to fill."

Daniel Briere, Taylor Pyatt and Adam Mair already are out. But Buffalo, which did not have a 40-point player until Chris Drury reached the modest plateau with a goal and assist last night, continues to give the Leafs grief.

As Buffalo improves its chances for its first playoff spot in four seasons, Toronto still is on the outside.

"We want to get room on them now, because I'm sure they'll get a little bit healthier and pick up a player or two before the (trade) deadline," Sabres winger Mike Grier said. "Hopefully, we can make it extremely difficult for them (in the standings).

"Both teams really dug in and left it all out there tonight. We know that after losing Timmy, we're going to have to play an uglier game. We threw pucks on the net tonight and got some good bounces."

Now that the Ottawa Senators have wiped their feet on the Leafs in six meetings, the Leafs will see the other division rivals, the Sabres and Montreal Canadiens nine times in the next 26 games. The Habs are here tomorrow night.

"We've had some success against Montreal this year (3-1, as opposed to 1-2 versus Buffalo)," Kyle Wellwood said, "so hopefully we can do that again (tomorrow) and keep winning our division games."


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