September 29, 2016 - 8:20 PM
ST. CATHARINES, Ont. - The matchup between the Nylander brothers fizzled out as the goalies stole the show.
Matt Moulson scored the only goal in a shootout and Anders Nilsson earned the shutout as the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 1-0 on Thursday at the Meridian Centre.
Nilsson stopped 23 shots in regulation and overtime plus all four Toronto shooters. Meanwhile, Toronto goalies Garret Sparks and Kasimir Kaskisuo combined to stop all 38 Buffalo shots in regulation and overtime. Kaskisuo had stopped the first three Buffalo shooters before Moulson's winner.
"It's kind of a crazy feeling seeing all those long-time NHL players coming down on you," said Kaskisuo, who faced Alex Nylander, Kyle Okposo, Evander Kane and Moulson in the shootout.
"You just gotta stay in the moment and focus. Do what you've got to do to stop the puck."
The Meridian Centre is a 5,000-seat arena home to the Ontario Hockey League's Niagara Ice Dogs, and geographically not quite midway between Toronto and Buffalo in St Catharines, Ont.
Toronto coach Jim Hiller, taking over duties while Mike Babcock is with Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey, said he was most happy with how his team rebounded from a slow first period in which they were outshot 11-4.
"We had a real tough time handling the speed and the forecheck and the rush in the first period," he said. "But I thought we adjusted to that pretty well."
He later added: "I was disappointed tonight because I thought we came back and played so hard against that team. It would have been a great feeling for the guys (to win). But we can't be disappointed in the effort."
Miller had nothing but praise for his two young goalies, Sparks and Kaskisuo, who are fighting for position on Toronto's AHL team, the Marlies.
Sparks stopped 17 shots before giving way to Kaskisuo with 7:31 left in the second. Kaskisuo stopped 21 Buffalo shots and three shooters before Moulson's winner.
With no Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner or Jack Eichel on the ice, the feature match-up was between brothers William (2014, eighth overall) and Alex Nylander (2016, eighth overall), who had never played each other until Thursday. Neither got on the scoresheet.
Matthews, Toronto's first-overall draft pick, is expected to make his debut on Friday in Buffalo.
With the World Cup of Hockey taking over the Air Canada Centre, the Leafs have taken their pre-season show on the road. They lost their first game 6-3 to Ottawa in Halifax on Monday and play in Buffalo on Friday night before heading back to the ACC for an Oct. 2 matchup against Montreal.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016