NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, March 31st (All times Eastern)
Buffalo Sabres (38-30-10) at Toronto Maple Leafs (33-36-9), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Sabres have been on a roll that most teams would love to copy, but they are still left with the slightest margin of error.
After having a nine-game point streak snapped last night and falling out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, Buffalo looks to rebound this evening and extended the Toronto Maple Leafs' franchise-worst home losing streak.
The Sabres carried a 7-0-2 record into last night's meeting with the slumping Penguins and had put together a 14-2-4 span before getting dealt a 5-3 defeat by visiting Pittsburgh. The loss kept Buffalo's point total at 86, the same amount as the Washington Capitals. However, the Caps hold the current tiebreaker with five more non-shootout wins as both clubs have four games remaining.
Washington is hosting Montreal this evening.
Jordan Leopold, Thomas Vanek and Tyler Ennis each had a goal for the Sabres last night, while Ryan Miller gave up four goals 33 shots. Buffalo had a five- game win streak halted, but is still 4-0-1 in its past five on the road.
"It's been a playoff mentality for us for a while now," said Miller. "If this was a playoff game we'd be talking about how we have to put this behind us and look to the next game. That's exactly what we have to do."
Buffalo played without Christian Ehrhoff (left knee), Matt Ellis (knee) and Nathan Gerbe (upper body), then lost Mike Weber to an undisclosed injury in the loss.
Toronto, meanwhile, has just two chances left to end its longest home losing streak in club history.
The Maple Leafs have dropped 11 in a row at the Air Canada Centre and will wrap a four-game homestand this evening after suffering a 7-1 setback to the Flyers on Thursday. Mikhail Grabovski had the lone goal for his 200th career point as Toronto lost its third straight games and fifth in its past six outings overall.
With Jonas Gustavsson taking a shot off his left knee during warmups, Jussi Rynnas was pressed into his first NHL start and was tagged for all seven goals on 30 shots. Rynnas, an emergency call-up when James Reimer sustained a lower- body injury, made his NHL debut in relief of an ineffective Gustavsson on Tuesday.
"When you have a young guy that steps in and is going to play his first full [game] in the NHL, I would've expected more from our group from a protection standpoint," said Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle.
Instead, the Maple Leafs remain winless at home since Feb. 6 and will play in Buffalo on Tuesday before returning home for the final time this season two nights later against the Lightning. Toronto has also matched its longest winless streak at home in club history, an 0-7 drought that included four ties during the 1987-88 campaign.
Toronto has won both of its home games versus the Sabres this season while losing a pair of tests in Buffalo. The Maple Leafs have also captured five of the past seven encounters overall as well as four in a row and five of the past six played in Toronto.
03/31 10:33:15 ET