Sabres-Maple Leafs Preview
The Toronto Maple Leafs will probably be in a desperate mode
Saturday night at home.
The Maple Leafs are mired in a three-game skid that has stalled
their playoff push and will face one of the teams they are chasing,
the Buffalo Sabres.
Toronto (29-29-10) revived hopes of its first postseason berth
since 2004 by going 6-0-3 from Feb. 15-March 3. But the Maple Leafs
are 0-2-1 in their last three and six points out of a spot after
Thursday’s 3-2 loss to Philadelphia.
“I guess this just makes Saturday’s game all the more
important,” forward Joffrey Lupul said. “There’s a lot of games
left but this is basically as close to a must-win as you can
Winning on Saturday probably won’t be easy. Buffalo (33-26-8)
has won 13 of its last 15 against Toronto, and nine of its last 10
in the series on the road.
The Maple Leafs are 0 for 39 on the power play in their last 11
games against the Sabres and 1 for 27 in their last six games
Ryan Miller is 12-2-0 with a 1.57 goals-against average in his
last 14 starts against the Leafs and 8-1-0 in his last nine at the
Air Canada Centre, although he lost the last meeting Feb. 16 at
home and his last start in Toronto on April 1.
The Sabres are finishing up a seven-game trip after going 4-1-1
in the first six. Brad Boyes scored in overtime in Thursday’s 4-3
win over Boston.
“When you score in overtime this time of year it’s exciting,”
Boyes said. “It’s about getting points now. It doesn’t matter who
Thomas Vanek has five points in his last three games. He and Tim
Connolly had power-play goals Thursday as Buffalo went 2 for 7
after going 0 for 14 in its previous four games.
The Sabres are in a tight race with the Rangers and Carolina for
the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, and would no
doubt love to hamper Toronto’s pursuit. Vanek and Drew Stafford
each have four points to help Buffalo win three of four in the
The Maple Leafs were hurt Thursday when defenseman Mike
Komisarek was ejected early in the game for shoving Philadelphia’s
Daniel Carcillo. The game misconduct led to the Flyers scoring a
power-play goal for a 1-0 lead.
“It’s not good when you lose a D-man that early but I thought we
adapted OK,” defenseman Dion Phaneuf said.
Lupul and Mikhail Grabovski scored for Toronto, which has not
lost four straight since Nov. 26-Dec. 2.
“We played hard, but we didn’t play hard enough,” Phaneuf said.
“It’s a disappointing loss, that’s for sure.”
The Maple Leafs may need Phil Kessel to get untracked again.
Kessel had amassed 10 points in five games before managing one over
the last four.
Rookie James Reimer is mired in his longest winless streak,
posting a 4.42 GAA over the last three games. Reimer was pulled
after allowing five goals against the Sabres in a 6-2 loss Feb. 5,
but he beat Buffalo after playing 40 minutes in relief of the
injured Jean-Sebastien Giguere in a 2-1 victory Feb. 16.
“We’ve got 14 games left and there’s a lot of points we can
get,” Reimer said. “So things are still looking good.”