BUFFALO - Maybe all it takes is for the Buffalo Sabres to have their backs against the wall.
Tuesday night at the First Niagara Center, the Sabres' hopes for the playoffs seemed nearly impossible as they trailed 3-0 after the first period and were down two goals with nearly five minutes remaining.
The statistics going into the game weighed heavily on Buffalo's side.
The Sabres had have not lost the home portion of a home-and-home series with the Maple Leafs since Dec. 2, 1970.
Going into the game, the Sabres had not lost the final regular season home game since the lockout in 2004-05.
In the previous five meetings between the two teams this season, the home team was 5-0.
Fun facts aside, the Sabres came out of the gates looking like the team which resembled the one we saw in December when it went 4-10 as Toronto jumped out to a 3-0 lead.
Without defensive stars Tyler Myers and Christian Ehrhoff in the lineup due to injuries, Buffalo was forced to rely on the likes of Robyn Regehr, Andrej Sekera, Alexander Sulzer and Brayden McNabb.
"We had some defensemen who struggled early," Buffalo Sabres' head coach Lindy Ruff said. "Andrej had a tough time. One time our two veteran defensemen got tied up with each other. Toronto did a good job picking us apart. We got scared. We didn't have good puck control. We got caught standing in our own end."
The Sabres faced a three-goal deficit after the first period and faced a two-goal deficit twice in the third period.
But leave it to the Sabres to keep things interesting entering the final four days of the regular season.
"It's not how you draw them up," Ruff said. "It was a hell of a way to win it. That game had everything. For the last home game of the year in the regular season, that game had everything."
Desperation mode sank in late in the game as all five Sabre players on the ice were around the crease jamming away before defenseman Jordan Leopold finally pushed the puck into the net with 1:53 remaining.
"That might be one of the most incredible displays I have ever seen of five guys trying to find the puck," Ruff said.
Marcus Foligno, a recent callup from Rochester, turned in his finest game as a professional and was key in getting his team the tying goal.
"Mike Komisarek basically jumped on (Foligno's) back and smashed his head on the ice," Ruff said. "(Foligno) did everything he could to get the puck in the paint. I think he single handedly helped this team win a game."
And when Buffalo went on a power play in overtime to have a 4-on-3 advantage, it was Derek Roy who scored the game-winning goal to send the First Niagara Center into a frenzy. Goaltender Ryan Miller, who usually shows little emotion on the ice, also got caught up in the excitement as he tackled Roy at center ice to celebrate.
"We got a few positives in the second period and we built off of it," Miller said. "The only problem is we got off to a tough start. We have to have that energy the whole night and hopefully we learned that lesson by dodging a bullet tonight.
"Our drive in the third period was great," he added. "We didn't quit. You don't want to see a deficit like that again. Let's hope it's a source of inspiration. In other games where we may need some kind of boost, we can fall back on this game."