TORONTO (AP) — Alex Tuch scored twice and the Buffalo Sabres overcame Toronto star Auston Matthews’ third hat trick of the season to beat the Maple Leafs 6-4 on Saturday night.
JJ Peterka had a goal and an assist, Tage Thompson, Jeff Skinner and Jordan Greenway also scored and Devon Levi made 25 saves to help Buffalo improve to 6-6-0.
“Even if they scored, we didn’t let them get too much momentum,” Tuch said. “We didn’t sit back and whine and complain. We just kept playing Sabres hockey.”
Defenseman Ryan Johnson had an assist in his NHL debut, called up from Rochester after the Sabres put Mattias Samuelsson on injured reserve.
“We got good news,” coach Don Granato said about the top-pair D-man, “but he’s going to be out a little bit.”
The Sabres also played without forward Dylan Cozens, due to an undisclosed injury, but Granato said the team received “very positive news” about his recovery.
Tuch gave Buffalo a 5-4 lead with 7:12 left when Rasmus Dalhin’s point shot hit the big winger and caromed past Woll.
Tuch added an exclamation point with 1:06 to go when he buried his third into an empty net after fighting off Nylander and John Klingberg.
Toronto has dropped four straight (0-2-2) to fall to 5-4-2.
“A lot of heavy lifting for our top guys right now,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “We’ve got a bunch of guys that we need to get playing better.”
Mitch Marner had a goal and three assists for Toronto, while William Nylander extended his franchise-record points streak to open a season to 11 games with an assist.
“Everyone wants to execute … everyone wants to produce,” Marner said. “Stay patient with it, stay positive.”
Joseph Woll made 35 stops for Toronto.
Matthews has an NHL-high 11 goals this season. He has 10 career hat tricks.
“Every time we were in control and the game was right there for us, just gave it back — right back,” Matthews said. “We just haven’t played a full, complete team game where we’re rolling out four lines and making it really difficult on the opposing team for a full 60 minutes.”
Sabres play at Carolina on Tuesday night.