|Ryan Miller makes a save against Wayne Primeau during action between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Buffalo Sabres. (Dave Abel/QMI AGENCY)
TORONTO - Who says southern Ontario doesn't have a second NHL team?
After winning their eighth consecutive game on Air Canada Centre ice, the Buffalo Sabres certainly could make that claim.
Making the 90 minute drive across the Peace Bridge and up the QEW to Toronto certainly suits Lindy Ruff’s team, which once again squashed the hopes of the Maple Leaf faithful by posting a come-from-behind 3-2 overtime win Monday night.
Obviously the wrong Buffalo pro sports team is playing home games in Toronto.
The NFL Bills are 0-2 at the Rogers Centre. The Sabres, meanwhile, own this town, thanks in large part to goalie Ryan Miller.
Having lost their past nine meetings against the Sabres, the Leafs had no one but themselves to blame for this one.
Nursing a 2-1 lead in the third period, the defence pair of Francois Beauchemin and Ian White made a costly mistake, leaving the Sabres’ Jochen Hecht wide open in front of goalie Jonas Gustavsson.
Hecht took full advantage of Toronto’s defensive lapse, flicking the puck in with just 7:01 remaining to knot the score at 2-2.
“It’s almost like the Leafs expected something bad to happen when the score was 2-1,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said afterward.
Sure enough, it did, thanks to Hecht.
Then, in overtime, Beauchemin and White were victimized yet again. This time it was Derek Roy who somehow found himself alone with Gustavsson and the Sabres sniper made no mistake, giving the Sabres the victory at 3:35 of the extra frame.
“Those are pee wee mistakes. They can’t happen,” frustrated coach Ron Wilson said, refusing to buy into any suggestions that grabbing at least one point from the Sabres was a moral victory.
Nathan Paetsch scored the other Buffalo goal while White and Viktor Stalberg replied for Toronto.
Miller, meanwhile, continued his mastery over the Leafs, turning aside 34 Toronto shots for the win.
By posting his 21st career victory over the Leafs, Miller has more wins versus Toronto than any other active goalie. Martin Brodeur and Chris Osgood are next at 17 apiece.
“It’s unfortunate for (the Leafs),” Miller said of the outcome. “Either team deserved to win.
“You get your point. You can’t afford to be out there and let the other team dictate. You want to be on the gas pedal and force the other team to make decisions.”
The Sabres goalie was asked about the chants of “Mill-er!” that echoed through the building when his team was down 2-1.
“They had an opportunity to get on me,” he said. “If you are not playing well and they’re leaving you alone, that’s probably scarier.
“It was good to hear that. There was a lot of energy in the rink. I was just happy to get the win. That’s the only way to make the fans go home unhappy because they were having a lot of fun when we were losing.”
That Christmas cheer was shortlived by the Toronto supporters in the end.