Hutchinson, Leafs give up four goals in second period as Leafs fall to Sabres

Jake Carter
BarnBurner Sports Writer


Friday, November 29, 2019


BUFFALO, NY. – Since the arrival of new Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe, players like Jason Spezza and Tyson Barrie have received a much-needed fresh start. Goaltender Michael Hutchinson is a player that received one of those but couldn’t take advantage of it on Friday in Buffalo.

Hutchinson and the Leafs gave up four goals in the second period and couldn’t come back in a 6-4 loss to the Sabres on Friday night in Buffalo.

Hutchinson was tested on the first shift of the game but made two sharp saves to keep the game scoreless. Something that Keefe prioritizes is keeping possession of the puck. That was shown early, with Toronto cycling the puck as well as holding it while making line changes instead of dumping it into the Buffalo zone.

The Sabres had two odd man rushes in the opening ten minutes but couldn’t capitalize on either chance.

The next scoring chance came with 6:30 left in the period. Buffalo turned the puck over at Toronto’s blue line, which sent William Nylander in alone on a breakaway. He went for the shot on the glove side, but Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark made the save.

Less than two minutes later, Nylander had another great chance. He toe-dragged around Sabres defenceman Marco Scandella and placed his shot in the same spot. But once again, Ullmark used his glove to shut the door.

With 1:06 left in the frame, Toronto opened the scoring.

After the Leafs kept control of the puck, Ilya Mikheyev found the puck in the slot after a broken play in the Sabres zone. He passed it to John Tavares beside the net who scored to put Toronto up 1-0. It’s Tavares’ eighth of the season and gave him goals in back-to-back games.

Tavares wasn’t done there.

With 18:39 left in the second period, Tavares found the back of the net once again. After being stopped on a partial breakaway, Tavares stayed with the play from the side of the net. Ullmark whiffed on covering up the puck, and the captain pushed it past the goal line to give the blue and white a 2-0 lead.

Buffalo got on the board with 14:15 left in the second frame. Hutchinson tried to clear the puck but Kasperi Kapanen turned the puck over at the blue line. Sabres forward Johan Larsson dropped the puck back to Jeff Skinner, who beat Hutchinson on the glove side to cut the lead in half.

Not long after, Spezza took a hooking penalty. Hutchinson made a great save on Sam Reinhart, which then sprung Kapanen on a breakaway. He missed two chances to score, with the play ending in a slashing penalty to Jack Eichel.

After Eichel exited the penalty box, he had a two-on-one and made no mistake. His 15th goal of the year beat Hutchinson glove side once again, and the game was tied 2-2.

Not long after, Buffalo struck again.

A point shot by Marco Scandella was tipped in by Casey Mittelstadt, and just like that Buffalo took the 3-2 lead. All three goals were scored in six and-a-half minutes.

The Sabres extended their lead yet again with 1:06 left in the period. Victor Olofsson scored the Sabres fourth goal of the period on Hutchinson’s glove side to put Buffalo up 4-2.

The Sabres outshot the Leafs 26-18 through two periods.

"A lot of focus on Hutch, but there's a lot more going on in the game than just that. (After the first period) I thought we just handed them the puck in bad spots," Keefe told reporters after the game.

Near the midway point of the final frame, the Leafs got back to within one. Jason Spezza had the puck behind the net and passed it out front to Dmytro Timashov, who made it 4-3.

Auston Matthews turned the puck over 1:44 later, and Jimmy Vesey restored Buffalo’s two goal lead.

With 7:50 left, Toronto answered back. Nic Petan outworked Jake McCabe below the Buffalo net and fed the puck out front to Kapanen. He capitalized to trim the Sabres lead to 5-4.

Toronto pulled their goalie with a little less than two minutes remaining, but despite multiple chances, they were unable to score.

Jack Eichel scored his second goal of the game into the empty net to seal the Buffalo win, and he now has 12 goals in 14 career games against Toronto.

Hutchinson stopped a penalty shot with 0.9 seconds left in the game. He became the first Leafs goalie to allow four or more goals in six straight starts since Ed Belfour did from January 10-26, 2006. He remains winless on the season, with his record falling to 0-5-1. His last win in the NHL came last season on January 10th , 2019 against the Devils.

"You can choose to dwell on it and have it kind of take over your life and be negative and miserable about it, or you can take it as a learning experience. Watch the video, see where I can improve to get my game back on track,” Hutchinson told reporters after the game.

"We haven't been all too good for (Hutchinson) all year. You have to feel for a guy like that who comes in and gives it his all every game and we just got to be better for him," Matthews told reporters after the game.

Toronto will have another chance to defeat Buffalo on Saturday night at Scotiabank Arena. Frederik Andersen is expected to start for the Leafs, while Buffalo will likely go with Carter Hutton.