"Felt like a home game": O'Reilly loved hearing the support of Leafs fans in Buffalo

Feb 22 2023, 2:56 pm

Tuesday night’s win for the Toronto Maple Leafs is the kind that Ryan O’Reilly might’ve had dreams about as a kid.

Scoring a hat trick against his former team in the Buffalo Sabres in just his third game as a Leaf, O’Reilly helped lift the Leafs to a 6-3 win over their cross-border rivals.

And having spent three seasons playing for the Sabres, he admitted that being able to net his fourth career hat trick against his former team added a cherry on of the win.

“It definitely feels a little better than other buildings for sure,” O’Reilly told reporters following the game.

O’Reilly had taken part in seven previous Leafs-Sabres games in Buffalo from 2015 to 2018 as a member of the home team.

But due to a series of factors: geography, cheaper ticket prices in Buffalo, and Sabres season ticket holders willing to cash in on Canadians spending their money to go see their beloved Leafs, it’s usually a house packed full of Blue and White whenever these two teams meet up in Western New York.

“It’s nice to be on this end of it,” O’Reilly added. “It’s great that the fans are here… we gave them a good show… it felt like a home game.”

In addition to the newcomer’s three goals, O’Reilly’s linemate in Mitch Marner added five assists while John Tavares had a goal and three assists.

“That line — our team in general, and our team game — in that first period was as dominant as we’ve been all season long. It was tremendous to see,” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe added.

The Leafs are off until Friday, when they host the Minnesota Wild at Scotiabank Arena.

“We got to continue to build, we have a long road ahead of us here. I think it’s gonna be a good one,” O’Reilly added.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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