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Buffalo 4, Toronto 2
Posted: Friday March 07, 2003 12:01 AM
Toronto Maple Leafs
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Buffalo Sabres
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BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- Even without their bad boys, the Toronto Maple Leafs were in a bad mood.

Curtis Brown scored twice and Martin Biron made 31 saves as the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Maple Leafs, 4-2, in a fight-filled meeting of archrivals.

Brown scored the decisive goal on the power play 4:36 into the third period, making it 3-1, then hit an empty net with 10 seconds to play, giving Buffalo its fifth win in 11 games (5-3-1-2) following an eight-game skid (0-6-0-2).

Biron helped, especially in the final period, stopping former Sabre Alexander Mogilny point blank in the opening minute to preserve a 2-1 lead before making a sensational glove save on Gary Roberts with 53 seconds to play.

Brown was on his knees when he scored the empty-netter, defenseless as Robert Svehla delivered a modest cross-check that knocked him off-balance into the boards. The hit typified a physical contest between border rivals.

With more than a third of the 18,106 fans at HSBC Arena cheering for the visitors, the first period featured four fights in as many minutes. The rough stuff began with Bryan McCabe's hit on Sabres center Adam Mair after the whistle.

"I don't think there was anything dirty about it," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "There were no vicious sticks or anything. There were a few fights that will leave marks, but other than that it was good, old-fashioned hockey."

The Leafs proved they can play tough without their top agitators, Darcy Tucker and Tie Domi, who were suspended by the NHL on Wednesday for their roles in separate incidents against Ottawa on Tuesday.

"We've got enough guys on our team that can handle themselves," Leafs left wing Shayne Corson said. "I would have loved to have Tie here tonight, the same as Darcy. We love to have all our guys in the lineup."

It was the Leafs' first game since they lost to the Senators and acquired Owen Nolan, who was not with the team.

"I anticipated them being in a nasty mood, just from the result of their previous game," Ruff said. "They just made a big trade and they probably want to try and build some momentum moving back into their own building."

Corson and Svehla scored for the Leafs, who matched a season high with their third straight loss. They have been outscored, 18-10, in the last five games, losing four.

"We haven't been doing the things you have to do to win," coach Pat Quinn said.

It looked good 1:46 into the second period as the Leafs grabbed a 1-0 lead against one of the NHL's worst teams when Corson redirected defenseman Wade Belak's centering feed past Biron.

But the Sabres scored the next three goals. Miroslav Satan tied it 4:05 into the second when his shot from the left point hit Mogilny and slipped past goaltender Ed Belfour.

Taylor Pyatt gave Buffalo the lead for good with 5:16 left in the second, putting a bad-angle snap shot through Belfour's pads.

Brown made it 3-1 at 4:36 of the third, cashing in on a power play by roofing a snap shot over Belfour's right shoulder from the right goalpost.

Svehla halved Toronto's deficit on the power play with 83 seconds remaining, but Biron preserved the lead in the final minute when he snatched Roberts' wrist shot from under the left hashmark with his glove.

Brown sealed the win by outworking Svehla and outracing Mogilny, picking up the loose puck above the circles before hitting the empty net.

But the game will be remembered more for its fights than the final score. The nasty four-minute sequence began when McCabe backed into Mair near the boards following an offsides call.

With players converging near the boards 11 minutes into the game, Sabres tough guy Rob Ray ended up throwing punches with Andrei Ponikarovsky in a mismatch.

"(Ponikarovsky) must have gotten punched 10 times (by Ray)," Quinn said. "There's not even an instigator for that. This whole episode, with the game the other night and this sort of stuff, is confusing to me."

The period continued with three fights in a 36-second span as Mair took on McCabe, Corson battled Chris Gratton and Belak faced off with Eric Boulton. There were no fights thereafter.

"We were in here after the first period and saw all the guys (who were in fights)," Brown said. "They played a real big part of that game. They went out and got the momentum going for us."