Maple Leafs-Sabres Preview
The Sabres will try to stay afloat in the playoff race Tuesday night when they host the Maple Leafs to conclude a home-and-home set.
Buffalo trails Washington by two points for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, with three games remaining compared to two for the Capitals. The Sabres' prospects improved Monday night when the Capitals lost 4-2 at Tampa Bay.
Though Buffalo (38-31-10) has a game in hand, Washington - which is idle Tuesday - owns the tiebreaker.
"We've put ourselves in a tough spot," Buffalo right wing Jason Pominville said. "Instead of making it easy on ourselves, we're going to need some help and we're going to have to win our games. ... It might be the case where we have to win all three."
The Sabres didn't helped themselves with back-to-back losses over the weekend, 5-3 at home to Pittsburgh on Friday and 4-3 at Toronto the following night. Tyler Ennis, Ville Leino and Drew Stafford scored in the loss to the Maple Leafs, while Ryan Miller made 25 saves.
Defensemen Christian Ehrhoff and Tyler Myers both sat out Saturday. Ehrhoff, who has missed the last two games with a left knee injury, will miss the final three. Myers did not practice Monday, but could return for this contest after taking a shot off his foot against the Penguins.
Coach Lindy Ruff said the Sabres need to cut down on mistakes, particularly since they are playing undermanned.
"We've made it real tough on ourselves," Ruff said. "Obviously we know where we're at with a depleted defense. We've put ourselves in a real tough spot. We have to play a cleaner game than that. To try and chase the game with two of our more mobile defensemen out of the lineup that are on the offensive side of it, it's tough to chase. You're going to make some mistakes and give up some high-quality opportunities."
Toronto (34-36-9) will try to play spoiler again. It snapped a three-game losing streak with its win over Buffalo on Saturday.
The Maple Leafs, who were officially eliminated from playoff contention last week, are 6-17-3 since Feb. 7, hurt by poor goaltending.
AHL call-up Ben Scrivens gave Toronto a rare solid night in net Saturday. He made 29 saves in the win, two nights after the Maple Leafs had given up seven goals in a home loss to Philadelphia.
Toronto is preparing for a much tougher challenge Tuesday, particularly since it is 1-8-1 in its last 10 visits to Buffalo.
"We have to be prepared mentally more than anything for the start of the hockey game," Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "We know they'll be coming. They're fighting for their playoff lives. It's going to be a desperate Buffalo hockey club."