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Sabres beat Leafs in Nolan's return to Buffalo bench
Buffalo, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Steve Ott scored and had an assist to lead Buffalo to a 3-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Ted Nolan's return as head coach of the Sabres.
Ron Rolston and general manager Darcy Regier were fired on Tuesday, and were replaced by Nolan and Pat LaFontaine, who was named president of hockey operations.
LaFontaine, who starred for six seasons with the Sabres from 1991-92 until 1996-97, will be tasked with hiring a new GM.
Nolan, meanwhile, becomes the Sabres' bench boss for the second time. He previously served as head coach from 1995-1997.
"It was really fun for me to look up and see how much the fans were enjoying this game tonight," said Nolan. "Tonight, we looked really good. I really had to hold them in tight, its one of those things where you never know if it will happen again. It was an emotional game for me."
Marcus Foligno and Christian Ehrhoff also scored and Ryan Miller made 32 saves for Buffalo, which has won two straight for the first time this season.
"We're starting fresh, and we're starting to build from this day on. I really like that a lot of guys played with light shoulders rather than heavy backs," said Ott.
Trevor Smith scored a goal for the Maple Leafs, who have dropped three straight and four of their last five games overall.
"The boys fought for the puck in the corner and hit me with a pass. I think it hit a defenseman in front, I'll take whatever I can get," said Smith.
These clubs meet in the back end of the home-and-home set in Toronto on Saturday.
Smith opened up the scoring 6:25 into the second period. David Clarkson recovered a loose puck along the boards on the left side and centered a pass to Smith, who ripped a slapshot from the point for his second goal of the season.
Ott tied the game just over three minutes later with a power play marker. With the 5-on-4 advantage following Mark Fraser's penalty for cross checking, Tyler Myers blasted a slap shot from just inside the blue line. The chance went wide, but Ott was there to stuff home the rebound to tie things up.
Buffalo took the lead for good with 4:38 left in the frame. Drew Stafford found Ott skating along down the left side. As a Toronto defender caught up to Ott deep in the Maple Leafs' zone, Ott dropped a pass back to Foligno, who had a wide open look at the net for his third tally of the season.
Erhoff's empty-netter accounted for the final difference.
Nolan picked up his first win with Buffalo since Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, a 5-4 OT decision at Philadelphia on May 9, 1997 ... It was Nolan's first regular-season win for the franchise since a 5-1 victory at Boston on Apr. 10, 1997 ... The Sabres last regulation win was on Oct. 25 ... Erhoff's goal was his first of the season ... The Maple Leafs have scored just three goals over their last four losses ... Jonathan Bernier made 24 saves in the setback.
11/15 23:35:48 ET