TORONTO - As a centreman, James van Riemsdyk gave it the old college try, even if it was only for four full games.
But this is the NHL and the Maple Leafs forward was in the midst of doing his best work as a professional before he had to switch jobs. Sure it was an experiment necessitated by the Leafs rotten injury luck down the middle, but it knocked him off his game.
With a team desperate for some offence, van Riemsdyk had his office keys returned Saturday night and responded with a pair of first-period goals to barely pace the Leafs to an important 4-2 win over the lowly Buffalo Sabres.
The victory salvaged a split in the home-and-home series over two nights and snapped a season-long three-game losing streak for the Leafs.
And it turned out to be much more difficult than necessary as the Leafs nearly squandered a 3-0 lead entering the third period with as poor a final 20 minutes as they have played this season.