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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, November 16th (All times Eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (5-15-1) at Toronto Maple Leafs (11-7-1), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - With just four goals in their last five games, the pressure is beginning to mount for the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs.
Following a coaching change this week, things have gotten much more looser for the Buffalo Sabres.
The Sabres got the best of the visiting Maple Leafs last night and they'll look to stretch their winning streak to three in a row on Saturday evening in the finale of a home-and-home set in Toronto.
Despite Buffalo picking up its first home victory of the season on Tuesday, owner Terry Pegula still decided to fire general manager Darcy Regier and head coach Ron Rolston that night following a 4-15-1 start. On Wednesday, he hired Ted Nolan as the interim head coach and named former Sabres great Pat LaFonttaine as the president of hockey operations.
Nolan had previously served as Buffalo's head coach from 1995-97 and began his second stint with the club last night against Toronto. His return was triumphant, as the Sabres notched their first two-game win streak of the season with a 3-1 home victory.
"It was really fun for me to look up and see how much the fans were enjoying this game tonight," said Nolan. "Tonight, we looked really good. I really had to hold them in tight. It's one of those things where you never know if it will happen again. It was an emotional game for me."
Steve Ott and Marcus Foligno both scored and Christian Ehrhoff made a goal- saving block in the closing seconds before scoring into an empty net. Ryan Miller ended with 32 saves.
"We're starting fresh and we're starting to build from this day on. I really like that a lot of guys played with light shoulders rather than heavy backs," said Ott.
Things are starting to get heavy for the Maple Leafs, who went 0-2-1 on a three-game road trip and have lost four of five overall. Trevor Smith scored in last night's defeat, while Jonathan Bernier made 24 saves in the loss.
"It's a long season, there's ebbs and flows a bit," Toronto forward James van Riemsdyk said. "We're going to keep with the same approach -- just getting a lot of pucks to the net. We're getting some good chances, we've just got to start burying them."
The Maple Leafs have been tested with depth down the middle, with van Riemsdyk one of the players trying to fill the void. Center Tyler Bozak has been out since late October with a lower-body injury and Dave Bolland was lost early this month due to left ankle surgery.
Center Nazem Kadri, meanwhile, severed the first contest of a three-game suspension for elbowing Minnesota goaltender Niklas Backstrom in the head during Wednesday's loss to the Wild.
Smith was recalled from the American Hockey League on Friday to replace Kadri in the lineup, scoring his second goal of the season.
"The boys fought for the puck in the corner and hit me with a pass. I think it hit a defenseman in front. I'll take whatever I can get," said Smith.
Toronto begins a five-game homestand having lost four of its last six versus Buffalo.
The Sabres, though, have lost six of their last seven road games in this series.
11/16 10:31:06 ET
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