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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, March 27th (All times eastern)

Toronto Maple Leafs (31-30-13) at Buffalo Sabres (35-30-8), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Buffalo Sabres are expected to have a key part of their team back on the ice tonight when they welcome the Toronto Maple Leafs for a Northeast Division battle at HSBC Arena.

Ryan Miller, the club's No. 1 goaltender, has been sidelined since suffering a sprained left ankle on February 21 against the New York Rangers. Miller is 29-16-5 this season and he has a superb 15-7-0 career record against the Maple Leafs.

The Sabres are just 4-7-2 since the Miller injury and have seen their playoff chances take hit during that stretch. With 78 points, Buffalo is 10th in the East and seven points behind Montreal for the conference's eighth and final postseason berth.

Buffalo had lost four straight games prior to Wednesday's victory against the visiting Florida Panthers. Jason Pominville registered a goal and two assists, as the Sabres used a four-goal third period to rally past Florida, 5-3, at HSBC Arena.

Craig Rivet, Clarke MacArthur, Maxim Afinogenov and Tim Connolly also found the net for Buffalo. Mikael Tellqvist made 30 saves in the win.

Buffalo is playing the second of two straight at home tonight and will begin a three-game road trip Saturday in Montreal. The Sabres are 21-13-3 as the host this year and have won four of their last six tests on home ice.

The Maple Leafs are three points behind Buffalo for 11th place in the East standings, but have won two straight and four of their last five games.

Toronto earned its most recent victory Tuesday night against visiting Washington. Jeff Hamilton scored the lone goal of the shootout on the Leafs' first shot, and substitute goaltender Curtis Joseph stopped Alex Ovechkin to end the game, as the Leafs topped the Capitals, 3-2, at Air Canada Centre.

Hamilton beat Jose Theodore with a wrister to open the round, then the Caps netminder halted Jason Blake and John Mitchell in turn. Joseph stopped Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin, then turned away Ovechkin to wrap up the game by sliding in the crease before the star winger could elevate his shot.

Pavel Kubina lit the lamp and Phil Oreskovic tallied his first NHL goal for the Maple Leafs.

Martin Gerber made 34 stops before being ejected late in regulation. Joseph was strong with nine saves -- including eight in overtime -- to pick up the win.

The Maple Leafs are 17-17-4 as the guest this year and have won two of three and six of their last eight road games.

Buffalo has taken three of the four meetings with the Leafs this season and has come out on top in seven of the last nine encounters between the clubs. Toronto, however, has won three of its last five road tilts in this series.

03/27 10:53:10 ET


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