Frattin scores two goals – including OT winner for Leafs
(pictured – Matt Frattin scores late OT winner to beat Sabres)
Forward lines:: van Riemsdyk-Bozak-Kessel, McClement-Grabovski-Kulemin, Frattin-Kadri-Komarov, Brown-Steckel-Orr
Defence pairings: Phaneuf-Kostka, Liles-Gunnarsson, Fraser-Franson
Goaltenders: Reimer (Win, 64:58 minutes played, 29 saves, 3 GA), Scrivens (0:00)
When injuries befall a team, it’s up to the remainder of the squad to rise to the occasion. This is especially true of the recalled AHL players such as Matt Frattin, who was brought up from the Marlies after Joffrey Lupul went down with a fractured forearm.
Frattin’s two goals, including the overtime winner with under two seconds remaining – vaulted Toronto to a rare victory in Bufflao, edging the Sabres 4-3 on Tuesday. With 3 goals and five points in 3 games since rejoining the NHL, Frattin is certainly making the Leafs coaching staff reconsider their decision to leave him off the opening day roster.
The Toronto win – just the team’s second victory in their last 14 visits to First Niagara Center – was bolstered by other underdogs on the Leafs roster. Jay McClement opened the scoring in the game, ending a personal 19-game goal scoring drought, and also finding several scoring chances playing in the second-line left wing position normally occupied by the injured Clarke MacArthur.
Defenceman Cody Franson had what coach Randy Carlyle termed his “best game as a Maple Leaf” collecting two points. Franson earned an assist by taking initial shot that was stopped by Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller, who left a rebound waiting for Frattin to score his first of the game. The goal erased a brief one-goal Sabres lead early in the second period. Two-and-a-half minutes later, Franson released a wrist shot from the right point that beat Miller high on the short side for his first tally of the season.
Meanwhile James Reimer had a strong game in the Toronto goal, making several challenging third period saves, notably stifling a two-on-one pass from Jason Pominville to Tyler Ennis. Although Reimer allowed a five-hole goal by Buffalo rookie Mikhail Grigorenko to tie the game, some weak coverage by Toronto defenceman John Michael-Liles was a huge factor in the goal. The marker was a special validation for Grigorenko who was told earlier in the day that he would be staying with the Sabres rather than being returned to his junior team the Quebec Remparts.
Mike Brown left the game after fighting Buffalo’s Mike Weber. Carlyle categorized the injury as “upper body.” With Lupul on the long-term injury shelf and MacArthur listed as day-to-day, the onus once again falls on the Leafs healthy players to step up and perform. Their next challenge is against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals on Thursday night at Air Canada Centre.
Perhaps the efforts brought on by tonight’s foot soldiers will perpetuate throughout the lineup.
Rob Del Mundo is the author of Off The Post, and is a regular columnist at TMLfans.ca.
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