Toronto fans at Scotiabank Arena gave John Tavares a rousing ovation in the player’s first game since being reviled on Long Island. Tavares responded with a three-point night; a goal and two assists en route to a 5-2 Leafs win over Buffalo.

The Good

  • Tavares had a goal and two assists. His 37th tally of the year puts him one behind his career best, which he set in 2014-15.
  • The Leafs reworked the announcement of their starting lineup so that Tavares was announced last. His teammates left him by himself to acknowledge the ovation from the sellout crowd.
  • Mitch Marner also had a goal and two assists. Prior to the game, Marner took a moment to give a hug to a seven-year-old cancer patient.
  • Nic Petan, playing in his first game as a Leaf, scored the eventual game-winning goal, going down on a knee and one-timing a centring pass from Trevor Moore from behind the net.
  • Morgan Rielly and Nikita Zaitsev also scored for Toronto.
  • Kasperi Kapanen showed some feistiness, getting into a skirmish with Buffalo’s Evan Rodriques. Both players received major penalties, although two minutes each for roughing would have sufficed.
  • Martin Marincin’s days as a top-six Leafs defenceman are clearly behind him, but as an injury fill-in, the blueliner had a solid game on Saturday that included a dangerous rush down the left wing in the first period.
  • The Leafs won for the fourth consecutive outing versus Buffalo, a feat they have not accomplished in 48 years. Gilbert Perreault was in his second season.

The Bad

  • Frederik Andersen had a shaky first period. On the first goal of the game, the netminder lost sight of the puck, and in an effort to locate it, left it unfrozen at the wrong moment, leaving Jason Pominville to capitalize on the mistake.
  • Kudos to Zaitsev for his second period tally, but he was much too tentative on Conor Sheary in attempting to defend the Sabres forward. Sheary beat Anderson to the glove side for Buffalo’s second goal.

The Ugly

  • Marner had a few choice words for the officials after taking a stick to the mid-section from Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark, on which no penalty was called.

Rob Del Mundo is the author of Off The Post, and is a regular columnist at TMLfans.ca.

In 2019, Rob co-wrote with Evan Gubernick “The Hockey Addict’s Guide To Toronto”, now available at Chapters and Indigo stores everywhere.