New Toronto Maple Leafs acquisition Ryan O’Reilly scored no less than a hat-trick against his former team, the Buffalo Sabers.
O’Reilly scored a brace within 37 seconds of the first period before scoring into an empty net with 1:10 remaining, setting up a 6-3 win on Tuesday night.
It was the 32-year-old’s third meeting with the Toronto team. He had his first assists on Saturday night, against the Canadiens.
Ironically, O’Reilly has never managed a two-goal game at home to the Sabers, despite playing 120 games there since joining the NHL in 2009.
Playing between Mitch Marner and captain John Tavares, the Roar convinced coach Sheldon Keefe to continue experimenting.
In the long history of the Leafs, never before have three players had three points each in the first period of a match.
Tavares finished his night in action with a goal and three assists to reach 60 points (26 goals and 34 assists), while Marner added five assists to his record.
Michael Bunting, along with William Nylander, this season’s leading scorer for Toronto, completed the scoring for Toronto (35-15-8).
When Nylander scored his 32nd goal of the season late in the second half, Marner tallied 50 assists.
The Leafs’ No. 16 team has yet to manage a five-pass game in the NHL.
Buffalo (28-23-4) has won its previous two meetings. Jack Quinn and Alex Tosh scored three minutes early in the final period, then Jeff Skinner tightened the lead even further with 3:31 remaining.
Tage Thompson had an excellent opportunity to close the Sabers to one goal, but his shot from close range was saved by Ilya Samsonov.
Cited by the Leafs in the first period, Ukko-Pekka chased down Luukkonen with 12:09 left to play, giving way to veteran Craig Anderson.
The Sabers rookie goaltender winced four times on ten shots. Meanwhile, Samsonov stopped 29 shots to sign his 20th win of the year, in his first campaign with the Leafs.
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