NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, March 21st
(All times Eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (16-12-2) at Buffalo Sabres (11-15-4), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to put consecutive wins
together for the first time in over two weeks when they visit the Buffalo
Sabres for Thursday's divisional clash at First Niagara Center.
The Maple Leafs halted a five-game slide with Wednesday's 4-2 victory against
visiting Tampa Bay. The victory gave Toronto a 1-1-1 record on its three-game
homestand, bring the Leafs' home mark to 7-6-2 this season.
Despite going 0-3-2 prior to beating the Lightning, Toronto is still seeded
sixth in the Eastern Conference. The Maple Leafs are two points ahead of
Carolina, New Jersey and the New York Rangers, who are locked in a three-way
tie for seventh place.
After beating Tampa on Wednesday, Toronto will try to win consecutive games
for the first since a three-game winning streak from Feb. 28-March 6.
Dion Phaneuf, Tyler Bozak and Nikolai Kulemin scored for the Maple Leafs in a
6 1/2 minute span early in the second period, as Toronto took down Tampa Bay
at Air Canada Centre.
Joffrey Lupul added a first-period tally and Nazem Kadri recorded a career-
best three assists for the Maple Leafs.
"He was always good defensively," Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle said of
Kadri. "What happens in your transition from junior to pro hockey, it's the
number of times that you expose yourself to the high-risk, high reward and
where you do and when you do it on the ice."
James Reimer stopped 26 shots in the triumph, the first win for the Leafs
since beating Ottawa on March 6.
The Sabres, meanwhile, were able to pick up an impressive win over the first-
place Montreal Canadiens in their last game, but they also lost their top
scorer to an injury in the process.
Steve Ott netted a pair of goals, including the game-winner 2:16 into overtime
to help Buffalo earn a 3-2 win against the Northeast-leading Habs. However,
Thomas Vanek also left the contest after getting hit with a slap shot from the
stick of teammate Christian Ehrhoff.
The Austrian winger didn't return after getting hit with Ehrhoff's shot in the
second period. Vanek, who leads Buffalo in both goals (14) and points (31)
this season, did not participate in Thursday's morning skate and is not
expected to play against the Maple Leafs.
Tyler Ennis scored the other goal and Jhonas Enroth turned in a solid 32-save
performance to help the last-place Sabres beat the Canadiens. Ville Leino also
contributed a pair of assists to the victory.
"It was a huge game for us, we needed this," said Ott, who recorded his first
two- goal game since Dec. 29, 2009. "We finally found a way to close out
games, and that's probably one of the reasons why we've struggled all season."
Toronto has won two of three meetings against the Sabres this season,
including a 4-3 overtime victory in Buffalo on Jan. 29. That win came after
Matt Frattin scored with 1.5 seconds left in OT, ending Toronto's three-game
road losing streak in this series.
Buffalo is 5-6-2 as the host this season, while Toronto has a strong 9-6-0
03/21 11:35:06 ET