Nazem Kadri made the most of his call-up from the minor leagues to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, scoring the game-winning goal in a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres at the Air Canada Center.
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for Toronto while Northeast rivals Buffalo have now lost three in a row.
It felt great, Kadri told reporters. It's nice to have an immediate impact. Last year it took me a few games to score the first one so it's great to get the monkey off my back.
Hopefully there are more to come.
Jason Pominville gave the Sabres a much deserved lead midway through the second period with a powerplay goal.
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Toronto were called for four consecutive penalties and Buffalo carried the momentum, firing 14 of the first 15 shots in the period.
The Leafs struck back quickly with goals by Dave Steckel and Phil Kessel 62 seconds apart, giving them a 2-1 lead going into the third.
Derek Roy tied the score early in the third period, pouncing on a turnover and firing a shot over the left shoulder of Leafs netminder James Reimer, who made 40 saves in the game.
Kadri put the seal on an impressive night by taking a drop pass from Clarke MacArthur and sending a wrist shot into the top corner.
We got the number of shots, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. We got the chances. We got the lead. We bounced back and had a great start to the third period.
Already missing six regulars, the Sabres lost top goal scorer Thomas Vanek, who did not play the third period due to an injury.
He gave a valiant effort trying to come out and play hard, said Roy. Nobody knows that you're hurt but you're playing hurt. He just didn't have it tonight. He was a little bit too sore.