Matthews upstages Nylander, Sabres fall 4-2
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Auston Matthews scored his 39th goal to set the record for most by an American-born rookie and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-2 on Monday night to move closer to clinching their second playoff berth in 12 seasons.
Nazem Kadri had a goal and an assist, James van Rimedsyk and Leo Komarov also scored, and Frederick Andersen made 18 saves for the Maple Leafs in their fourth straight win.
The victory vaulted Toronto (39-24-15) one point ahead of Boston (43-30-6) for second-place in the Atlantic Division.
Jack Eichel and Ryan O'Reilly scored for Buffalo. Robin Lehner was pulled after giving up three goals on five shots in the first five minutes, and Anders Nillson stopped 32 of the 33 shots he faced.
The Sabres have lost three in a row and are 6-12-2 in their past 20 games. The late-season collapse will extend Buffalo's playoff drought to six consecutive seasons.
Playing in Buffalo for the second time in nine days, the Maple Leafs evened a 5-2 loss in their previous visit. A large contingent of Toronto fans filled the KeyBank Center with chants of "Go Leafs, go!"
Matthews scored his milestone goal in the same arena in which the Maple Leafs selected the 19-year-old center from Scottsdale, Arizona, with the No. 1 pick in June. The goal was also Matthews' 67th point of the season, setting a franchise rookie record.
Receiving a pass from rookie linemate William Nylander in the left circle, Matthews buried a slap shot to extend his point streak to nine games and give Toronto a 2-0 lead 5:01 into the first period.
It was one of three goals the Maple Leafs scored in a span of 43 seconds to take a 3-0 lead before the Sabres put a shot on net.
Komarov got the first goal at 4:26. Buffalo's Jake McCabe tried to clear the puck from behind the net but Kadri intercepted the errant pass and set up Komarov for a tap-in from the left slot.
Matthews' goal came 35 seconds later and Toronto added to its tally just eight seconds after that when Tyler Bozak won a faceoff in the Buffalo zone and van Rimesdyk scored his 26th on a wrist shot from the high slot.
O'Reilly made it 3-1 when he scored his 20th on a short-handed breakaway 1:51 into the second period. Eichel scored his 24th on a breakaway in the final minute of the game, notching his first point in three games.
Kadri's power play goal at 5:50 of the third was his 31st of the season.
Matthews scored in his 78th game to surpass Neal Broten, who scored 38 goals in 73 games for the Minnesota North Stars in 1981-82. ... Peter Ihnacak had 66 points for the Maple Leafs as a rookie in 1982-83. ... Buffalo's Alexander Nylander, the younger brother of Toronto's William Nylander, made his NHL debut after being called up from AHL Rochester on Monday. The Sabres selected the 19-year-old winger with the No. 8 pick in last year's draft. ... The Maple Leafs' three goals in 43 seconds was four seconds shy of the team record set on Jan. 20, 1940, in a 5-1 win over the New York Americans.
Maple Leafs: Host Washington on Tuesday night as part of a closing stretch of five games in seven days.
Sabres: Host Montreal on Wednesday night.