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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, March 21st (All times eastern)

Toronto Maple Leafs (33-31-10) at Buffalo Sabres (35-28-11), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Buffalo Sabres will aim for their fourth straight victory, as they continue their push for the playoffs with tonight's home test against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Buffalo comes into this evening's tilt trailing Philadelphia by just one point for the eighth and final postseason berth in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers are also playing tonight, as is Washington, which is just one point behind the Sabres.

The Maple Leafs are still in the playoff mix as they trail Philadelphia by six points for the East's final postseason seed.

Buffalo is 4-2 against the Leafs this season and has taken seven of 10 and nine of the last 13 matchups in the series. The Sabres have also come out on top in three of four, four of six and eight of their previous 11 home tests against Toronto.

The Sabres are playing the middle segment of a three-game homestand tonight and are 19-13-5 at HSBC Arena this season. Buffalo has won its last two on home ice after dropping its previous four tests in western New York.

Buffalo has outscored its opponents 20-7 during the current win streak and is coming off Wednesday's 7-4 victory over visiting Tampa Bay. Thomas Vanek had a natural hat trick as part of a six-goal third period for Buffalo.

Vanek, who leads Buffalo with 31 goals on the year, had just one tally in eight games before notching his third hat trick of the season.

Jason Pominville and Jochen Hecht each had a pair of goals for the Sabres. Ryan Miller allowed four goals on 15 shots through the first two periods, but stopped all four shots he faced in the third.

Toronto has won three of its last four games and is coming off Tuesday's road win against the New York Islanders. Pavel Kubina's go-ahead tally highlighted a three-goal third period that boosted the Leafs to a 3-1 triumph at Nassau Coliseum.

Alexei Ponikarovsky and Kyle Wellwood each added a goal and an assist for the Leafs. Alexander Steen contributed a pair of helpers, while Vesa Toskala made 27 saves to earn the win.

The Leafs have played their last two games without captain and leading scorer Mats Sundin, who is sidelined with a groin injury. Sundin leads Toronto with 32 goals and 45 assists this year, but is expected to miss his third straight game tonight.

Toronto is 16-16-5 and is playing the second of three straight road games tonight. The Maple Leafs have won four straight and six of their last seven on the road.

03/21 10:39:49 ET


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