The Buffalo Bandits late season swoon continued Friday night in Toronto as they lost to the Rock 13-9 for their sixth-straight loss.
The defeat prevented the Bandits from clinching a first round home playoff game with Toronto still having to chance to pass them for second in the NLL East division. This marks the second year in a row that Buffalo has a six-game losing streak.
Buffalo played from behind for most of the game. Toronto went 3-for-3 on the power play in the first quarter and used their success with the extra man to build an early 5-2 lead. The Bandits came back to the tie game 5-5 but trailed by a goal at the half.
They trailed by three again in the fourth quarter when Buffalo got power play goals from John Tavares and Joe Resetarits to cut the lead back to one. The Bandits comeback was halted, however, with just under two minutes to play when Kevin Ross scored his third goal of the night to seal the victory for the Rock.
Bandits goalie, Anthony Cosmo, made history late in first half when he recorded his 663rd save of the season. That broke the NLL single season save record that was previously held by Matt Vinc of the Rochester Knighthawks. Cosmo will eventually play in two more games than Vinc did in his record season, but Cosmo managed to break the record in 16 games.
Part of the reason for Cosmo's record-breaking performance is the fact that the Bandits have given up more shots than any other team this season. Cosmo, however, has been up to the challenege with one of the lowest goals against average in the league.
John Tavares led the Bandits with two goals and two assists in his return to the lineup. He was a scratch last week in Minnesota. Mark Steenhuis and Ryan Benesch each had a goal and three assists.
Stephan Leblanc led Toronto with three power play goals. Kevin Ross also had a hat trick while Rob Hellyer led all scorers with six points (1G, 5A). The Rock were playing without leading scorer Garrett Billings who is out for the year after tearing his ACL last week.
The Bandits finish up the regular season with a home and home series against Rochester. They will travel to Rochester on Saturday and then host the defending NLL champions at the First Niagara Center on Saturday, April 26.
If Buffalo wins one of their last two games then they will host Toronto in the first round of the playoffs on Saturday, May 3 at 7:30 PM.
Check out the On-Demand audio section for postgame reactions.