TORONTO — The Maple Leafs keep rolling.
Toronto won for the 10th time in the last 13 games, rallying to beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 on Tuesday night. Leo Komarov, Matt Martin and Auston Matthews scored three goals over nine minutes in the second period to erase a 2-0 first-period deficit.
It's the first time all season that the Leafs have won when trailing after the opening frame (1-8-1).
The victory came with a price as No. 1 defenceman Morgan Rielly was forced to exit with a lower-body injury. Frederik Andersen made 24 saves for the Leafs, James van Riemsdyk also finding the back of the net.
Kyle Okposo, Evander Kane, and William Carrier all scored in defeat for Buffalo. Robin Lehner and Anders Nilsson allowed four goals combined on 32 shots.
The first period got off to an ominous start for the Leafs.
First was the injury to Rielly, which saw the 22-year-old carrying the puck out from behind his own goal when his right leg got locked with the right leg of Carrier. His leg pulled in an awkward direction as it hit the ice. Rielly struggled to get to the bench and then hobbled to the team's dressing room at Air Canada Centre.
He returned for one shift and then exited once more, this time for good.
His absence, for any length of time, would leave a major hole in Toronto's lineup.
Rielly leads the Leafs in ice-time this season, averaging almost 23 minutes per-game alongside rookie Nikita Zaitsev on the team's top pair. He's tasked with the most difficult minutes for head coach Mike Babcock, matched nightly against opposing top lines while playing on both the power play and penalty kill.
Matt Hunwick ended up seeing the biggest spike in ice-time in his absence, finishing with a season-high of more than 27 minutes. Jake Gardiner also posted a career-high 29:24.
The Sabres struck first on Okposo's 13th this season shortly after the injury, the Buffalo winger scoring promptly off a misplay by Andersen. The Leafs No. 1 was under pressure from an on-rushing Carrier when he cleared the puck right to Okposo who quickly snapped a shot for the 1-0 lead.
Leafs coach Mike Babcock challenged the play on account of interference from Carrier, who got tangled up with Andersen, but the goal was confirmed on video review.
Kane upped the Buffalo lead to two with 33 seconds left in the first, the 25-year-old beating Andersen on a one-time feed from captain Brian Gionta.
It took the Leafs half a period to not only vanquish the deficit, but get a lead.
Komarov started the scoring 32 seconds into the second when a Nazem Kadri shot from the sideboards banged off the Finnish winger charging hard to the Buffalo goal. Martin tied it about eight minutes later when he threw a harmless shot from the corner at Lehner, the puck just sneaking through as the Sabres goalie hopelessly tried to pull it back.
Matthews put Toronto in front 47 seconds later with his team-leading 22nd goal of the year. Hard work behind the goal from linemates Connor Brown and Zach Hyman got the play going, Hyman scooping up a loose puck and feeding Matthews in front. He whipped a laser just under the crossbar for his 16th goal in 23 games since Nov. 23, matching Montreal Canadiens' captain Max Pacioretty for the league lead.
The 19-year-old trails only Sidney Crosby and Jeff Carter in goals this season.
Lehner's night was over at that point, a reality that seemed to frustrate the Sabres No. 1. Approaching the bench as backup Anders Nilsson stepped in, Lehner looked in the direction of head coach Dan Bylsma and appeared to say something. He then slammed the door to the bench and threw his mask down in disgust.
Van Riemsdyk pushed the Leafs lead to two with his 16th goal of the year on a power play. The 27-year-old is riding an eight-game point streak, posting three goals and 12 points in that span.
Carrier pulled Buffalo back within one when he batted a Zemgus Girgensons pass out of mid-air to beat Andersen. The Sabres would come no closer despite a late push.
The Leafs have won the first two meetings of five between Toronto and Buffalo this season.