Big hit turned tide for Sabres

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:00 AM ET

BUFFALO — Patrick Kaleta wanted to charge up the fans.

So, he charged into Nikolai Kulemin.

Kaleta’s flattening of Kulemin early in the game — a play that easily could have earned him a two-minute minor — instead caused the livid Maple Leafs to lose their composure, directly resulting in the 3-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres Friday night.

“Our past couple games we’ve had a little bit of a lull in the first period,” Kaleta said. “We wanted to have a couple good shifts and maybe kind of take the lull out a little bit. It was my job tonight.

“The hit was there and I took it. It helps get everyone in the game, especially our crowd.”

If the Leafs weren’t peeved enough at Kaleta for those actions, they were forced to watch him score a short-handed goal in the third period.

Ouch.

“I was lucky enough to get it but credit to all our penalty killers,” Kaleta said. “They did a tremendous job.”

Down the hallway in the Leafs dressing room, Kris Versteeg could only sneer when asked about Kaleta.

“He only plays one minute a game, so why would I care about him?” Versteeg said.

Don’t be fooled by Versteeg’s words. The Leafs do care. Very much.

And count on them remembering Kaleta’s actions, especially with the two teams meeting three more times this season.


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