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The last time the Sabres-Leafs met it was BEDLAM
Friday, May 21, 1999

Buffalo and Toronto are separated by Niagara Falls and Lake Ontario. It is a mere hour and a half drive (if you speed a little on the QEW) and now the two are playing to see who goes to the Stanley Cup Finals. The last time the two locked horns, it was in Buffalo on February 17. To get the feeling and atmosphere of the upcoming series, here is a description of the scene when Maple Leaf fans took over Buffalo's Marine Midland Arena:

It was a strange and scary feeling. The Toronto Maple Leafs had just beaten the Sabres 3-2 in overtime and the place went crazy. We couldn't get out! It was like being trapped behind enemy lines and we were wearing the opposing colors. All the Sabre fans must have scooted out as soon as the Leafs had scored, because they were nowhere to be found. We had to climb over a couple rows of seats just to get down the aisle in into the upper hallways. Right there was where we were surrounded by a sea of blue and white. "GO LEAFS GO! GO LEAFS GO!" That shout was repeated over and over for the next half hour before we got into the safety of our car. While still stuck up on the third level of the Marine Midland Arena and the crowd not even inching towards the escalators, I felt a fight was imminent. The Sabres had fought hard in this game, but one glaring mistake at the end had cost them. Now, the Leaf fans were celebrating as if they had won the Stanley Cup! When they started shouting "The Sabres suck, the Sabres suck," I had enough. Emotion took hold of me and I was out of control. I was going to take on all 3,000 fans who were stuck up on the third level. "THE SABRES WON THE SERIES, 3 GAME TO 2! THE SABRES WON THE SERIES, 3 GAME TO 2!" I shouted back. The crowd suddenly quieted and people with Leaf jerseys looked back at me. The saw a fan the size of Doug Flutie wearing a Bills jacket and a Sabres hat and smiled. When the "Sabres Suck" chant started again, I retaliated by screaming back "THE LEAFS ARE LOSERS!" That did it! The mugging was about to begin! However, these weren't Flyer or Bruin fans, but Leaf fans. Everyone was in a good mood, except for a couple of other Sabre fans we caught up with on the escalator. The Leafs had won an exciting game, and no disgruntled Sabre fan could spoil their mood.

The game itself was won the Sabres actually deserved to win. A goal by Curtis Brown in the second period was taken away when the referee went upstairs for a review. Buffalo trailed 2-0 after the first period but battled back to tie on goals by Dixon Ward and Miroslav Satan. Then the game went into overtime and it looked it would end in a tie. However, the puck was shot behind Hasek and he tried to stop it. First mistake. Darryl Shannon lost the puck behind his own net to Steve Thomas, who threw a quick pass in front to Matts Sundin who rifled it home behind Hasek who was still trying to get back into position. GAME OVER, LET THE CELEBRATION BEGIN! And what a celebration it was! When the Leafs scored, I could swear I was in the opponents' rink, it was so loud. When we finally got into our car, we had another half hour wait to get out of the carbon dioxide filled ramp. Even then, the cars were honking in celebration and you could hear that infamous chant "GO LEAFS GO!" It was a hard loss to take, as the Sabres played a very solid game. Shannon makes a serious mistake and it costs us the game. But to the Leafs fans, it was a Stanley Cup victory, as they hadn't beaten the Sabres in Buffalo since 1991.