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Sabres Dominate Leafs 4-1

Another game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, another easy victory for the Buffalo Sabres.

The Sabres continued their dominance of Toronto and grabbed a share of first place from the Maple Leafs in the Northeast Division with a 4-1 victory Friday night as Dominik Hasek made 32 saves.

Curtis Brown, Michal Grosek, Matthew Barnaby and Dixon Ward scored for Buffalo, which extended its unbeaten streak to nine games (6-0-3), including three wins over Toronto. Hasek gave up only a second-period goal to Fredrik Modin.

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  • "It was an important game for us," said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, whose team killed five penalties. "Special teams-wise, we did a great job. We got some key saves from Dom, and on our quality chances we got the puck in the net."

    The teams play again in Toronto Saturday night, giving the Maple Leafs just one more shot at the Sabres at home. "We're expecting a war," said Barnaby, who returned from a four-game suspension for delivering an elbow-first check to Boston's P.J. Axelsson.

    "When you're winning, you don't think you're ever going to lose," said Ruff, whose team hasn't lost since Oct. 24.

    Both teams have 20 points, but Buffalo (8-3-4) has four games in hand over Toronto (9-8-2). Buffalo moved into first place for the first time since it won the division two seasons ago, but at least one Sabre didn't think it mattered. "We've only played 15 games," Grosek said.

    Buffalo has weathered 49 of the last 52 shorthanded situations.

    "We have the best penalty killer in the league -- Dominik Hasek," Brown said.

    Buffalo swept a home-and-home series with Toronto in October and has an eight-game home unbeaten strak against the Maple Leafs (6-0-2). The Sabres have outscored the Maple Leafs 14-5 in three games this season.

    "I don't think it's any special success that we have against them," Barnaby said. "It's just the way it goes some nights. Against the Maple Leafs, they all seem to go in."

    The Maple Leafs are still looking for their first win in Buffalo since a 3-0 shutout of the Sabres at Memorial Auditorium in February 1991. Since that game, the Sabres are 10-1-4 against the Maple Leafs overall.

    Toronto coach Pat Quinn said there's nothing about Buffalo that makes it tough on his team.

    "We have to identify where we haven't done the job, and I hope we can do a better job in those areas whether it's Buffalo or any other team," Quinn said.

    Buffalo outshot Toronto 9-4 in the first period. The Sabres scored the first goal with 49 seconds left in the period when Ward controlled the puck behind the net and slid it to Vaclav Varada. His backhander found Brown in front.

    Maple Leafs goaltender Felix Potvin had played only once since Buffalo beat him 6-3 in the second game of that series Oct. 31 in Toronto. He made 22 saves Friday night.

    The teams combined for three goals in the first five minutes of the second period as the Sabres took a 3-1 lead. Grosek passed to Brown in the slot, gloved Brown's high return pass to the ice and flipped the puck over Potvin's glove for a 2-0 lead at 2:23.

    "I can say myself, it was a nice goal," Grosek said. "If I can score 10 in a season like that, I'd be very happy."

    The Maple Leafs cut it to 2-1 on Modin's goal at 2:47. Barnaby restored the two-goal lead at 4:27.

    Ward's goal, which deflected in off Maple Leafs defenseman Dimitri Yushkevich, made it 4-1 midway through the third period.

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