NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, February 13th (All times eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (23-25-9) at Buffalo Sabres (27-21-8), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A pair of clubs coming off victories over two of the top teams in the NHL will square off tonight, as the Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Sabres at Buffalo's HSBC Arena.
The Maple Leafs have won three of their last four and knocked off the NHL's best club, Detroit, last time out. Nik Antropov's goal 1:02 into overtime on Saturday helped Toronto stun the Red Wings, 3-2.
The scoring chance came after a Red Wings turnover led to an odd-man rush for Toronto. Then, with Detroit goaltender Dominik Hasek scrambling to get back into position, Antropov took advantage of some crisp passing and knocked a feed from Anton Stralman into the net.
Antropov, returning after serving a three-game suspension for abuse of officials, netted his career-high 19th goal. He posted 18 markers last season in 54 games.
Darcy Tucker and Mats Sundin also scored goals, Tomas Kaberle had a pair of assists and Vesa Toskala made 32 saves for the Leafs.
Despite Toronto's recent winning ways, the club's 55 points are still the second fewest in the Eastern Conference, ahead of only Tampa Bay's 54. Still, the club is only seven points out of a playoff spot.
The Maple Leafs will try to improve on their 10-15-4 road mark tonight before a five-game homestand that begins on Thursday versus the New York Islanders.
Buffalo was last in action on Tuesday and defeated the Northeast-leading Ottawa Senators, 5-1. Thomas Vanek scored twice during a four-goal third period for the Sabres to complete his first career hat trick.
Vanek now has seven goals in his last seven games to become the second Sabre to reach the 20-goal mark this season (Derek Roy, 21). The forward netted 43 goals last year and signed a large offersheet with Edmonton this past offseason that was matched by Buffalo.
Strong play from Vanek down the stretch will help the Sabres' playoff chances, as the club currently sits eighth in the conference, one ahead of Boston.
Clarke MacArthur and Jason Pominville both added third-period markers and had an assist each for the Sabres, who are 7-0-2 in their last nine games. However, the third-place team still trails Ottawa by 10 points in the standings.
Pominville now has 13 points (5 goals, 8 assists) during a career-high eight- game point streak. Ryan Miller stopped 25-of-26 shots for his fourth win in the last five starts.
Buffalo plays three of its next four at home starting tonight, and is 14-8-3 as the host this year. The Sabres will play in New York on Saturday versus the Rangers before coming home for two straight.
This is the third of eight meetings between Toronto and Buffalo this season. The Sabres won the first test before the Maple Leafs posted consecutive wins in Buffalo and then Toronto.
The Sabres have won six of 10 and eight of the last 13 in the series, and three of five at home versus the Maple Leafs.
02/13 10:34:36 ET