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Leafs Win Fourth Straight - Gustavsson With Another Shutout



Gustavsson celebrates his second shutout of the year

with Nikolai Kulemin

PHOTO: mapleleafs.com

The Maple Leafs were host to the Buffalo Sabres tonight in an important game for both teams. Buffalo, who are struggling to keep their playoff hopes alive came out flat against the Maple Leafs. Nikolai Kulemin would open the scoring on the powerplay in the first period just over eight minutes into the game. Then, with just over two minutes left in the opening period, Mikhail Grabovski places a beautiful backhand over the glove of Ryan Miller to lift the Leafs to a 2-0 lead. That would be the final score in a game where Jonas Gustavsson really wasn't tested too much.

Buffalo's offense was almost non-existent in the game. This may be partly due to the fact that Vanek left the game after taking a hit from Dion Phaneuf. Derek Roy did not dress for the Sabres tonight, but it looks like he will make his way back into the line-up within the next couple of games.

Jonas Gustavsson was solid again in goal for the Leafs as he picked up 32 saves for his second shutout in 2012. He wasn't too much, but his streak in goal for the Maple Leafs has continued. He is undefeated thus far in the new year.

The Maple Leafs penalty kill also hasn't allowed a goal against in the new year. This is mostly due to the fact that the Leafs as a whole have been taking far less penalties. They didn't take a single penalty tonight, and only took one penalty in each of the two previous games.

Late in the game Nathan Gerbe was getting into it with several Leafs, most prominently Joffrey Lupul. There was a scrum behind the Sabres net where Gerbe and Lupul were getting into it. Following that exchange the two of them got into it in front of the benches while both teams were changing lines for the faceoff. This may bring on some bad blood for Friday nights game in Buffalo.

With the win the Leafs have jumped up to 6th in the Eastern playoffs race, with a total of 49 points in 42 games. The Sabres loss puts them down below .500 with just 41 points in 42 games. Another loss for the Sabres on Friday night will likely be the final blow to their playoff hopes. More good news for the Maple Leafs is that most of the other teams in the Eastern Conference lost tonight. Montreal, Carolina, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg and Tampa Bay all lost tonight. New Jersey has also had a rough start against the Flames, they're down 4-0 at the end of the first period.

The Leafs next game is Friday in Buffalo, followed by another home-stand that starts on Saturday as the New York Rangers come into town.



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