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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, March 15th (All times eastern)

Buffalo Sabres (33-28-11) at Toronto Maple Leafs (32-30-10), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Both the Sabres and Maple Leafs are gunning for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and will collide tonight, as Toronto plays host to Buffalo at Air Canada Center.

The Sabres have the inside track, as they are ninth in the East, two points back of Philadelphia and its 79 points for the eighth seed. Toronto is a little further back with 74 points. The Flyers play in Boston this afternoon.

Buffalo snapped a four-game losing streak Friday night in a big way, knocking off Carolina, 7-1. Derek Roy scored two goals and added an assist as the Sabres stormed out of the gate with four first-period goals.

Adam Mair contributed a goal and two assists, Daniel Paille picked up a goal and one assist, while Ryan Miller stopped 27 shots to earn his 31st win of the season.

Paul Gaustad, Patrick Kaleta and Ales Kotalik all tallied for the Sabres, while Drew Stafford, Jason Pominville, Henrik Tallinder and Steve Bernier added two assists apiece.

Buffalo was without defenseman Nathan Paetsch, who is day-to-day with a concussion after being elbowed by Pittsburgh's Georges Laraque in Wednesday's 7-3 loss to the Penguins. Paetsch was helped off the ice, and Laraque was given a three-game suspension for the hit.

Jaroslav Spacek missed his second straight game due to a chest injury, while Tim Connolly remains out with a sore hip.

Buffalo will aim to improve on its 15-15-6 mark on the road before starting a three-game homestand on Wednesday in Tampa Bay.

Toronto enters this test riding a wave of momentum after sweeping a home-and- home set with the Flyers. The Maple Leafs erased a three-goal deficit to post a 4-3 overtime win in Toronto on Tuesday, then defeated the Flyers in Philadelphia, 3-2, the following night.

Pavel Kubina was the hero for a second straight night, as his goal early in the third period propelled the Maple Leafs to the one-goal win. Kubina had a pair of goals in Tuesday's win, including the overtime winner.

Ian White and Alexei Ponikarovsky also tallied for the Leafs on Wednesday. Vesa Toskala stopped 18 shots, including all six he faced in the final period, to earn the win. Tomas Kaberle had an assist to give him seven helpers over his last five games.

Toronto played the final two periods without captain Mats Sundin, who left after the first period with a groin strain. Sundin will not play tonight and he will be missed on the ice as he leads the Maple Leafs with 32 goals, 45 assists and 77 points this season.

The Leafs are 17-14-5 at home and next hit the road for three straight.

The Sabres and Maple Leafs will meet for the sixth of eight meetings this year. Buffalo holds a 3-2-0 edge so far in the series and has won eight of its last 12 against Toronto.

Buffalo has also won five of its last seven at Air Canada Centre.

03/15 12:42:36 ET


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