Sabres-Maple Leafs Preview
The Buffalo Sabres haven’t won on the road in almost two months,
and visiting the Toronto Maple Leafs may not provide a
Getting some players back healthy would improve their
The Sabres hope to have up to five players back from an illness,
as they try to end an eight-game road losing streak by winning in
Toronto for just the second time in nine tries Friday night.
Buffalo (10-24-3) owns the fewest points in the NHL, and the
team is 3-12-1 on the road. The Sabres last won as the visitor on
Nov. 5, when Cody Hodgson netted the decisive shootout goal in a
5-4 win at San Jose.
Since then, they’ve been outscored 26-9 in eight road games,
their longest losing streak as the visitor since a team-record
12-game slide from Dec. 17, 2011-Jan. 21, 2012.
Buffalo, though, has created some momentum at home, going 4-0-1
while winning three in a row after beating Phoenix 2-1 on a bizarre
goal in overtime Monday. Mark Pysyk’s shot deflected into the air
and landed on the back of Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith, who
retreated into his net and unknowingly crossed the line with the
“People out there want to see hard work and results. I think
hard work is the formula to get results,” Pysyk said.
Healthy players also help. The Sabres were reduced to 16 skaters
versus Phoenix after a virus sidelined Hodgson, Linus Omark, Ville
Leino, Marcus Foligno and Alexander Sulzer, causing them to recall
Pysyk from Rochester of the AHL.
Hodgson leads the Sabres with 19 points, but he has just three
assists over his last nine road games. One of those points came on
Tyler Ennis’ goal in a 4-2 loss at Toronto on Nov. 16.
The Sabres have dropped seven of their last eight visits to
Toronto since a 3-2 shootout victory on Nov. 6, 2010.
Ennis, who is tied for the team lead with eight goals, has three
goals and one assist over his past four contests in Toronto.
The Maple Leafs (18-16-5) may be thrilled to host the Sabres
since they’re 4-6-1 at home after winning eight of their first
The venue, however, hasn’t mattered much of late. Toronto is
2-5-2 in its last nine games, with three in a row going to
shootouts and the last two ending in defeats. In Monday’s 2-1 road
loss to the New York Rangers, Nazem Kadri salvaged a point by tying
the game with 1:24 left in regulation.
“I don’t think we played our best game, but we hung in there,”
goaltender Jonathan Bernier said. “We stole a point probably.”
It’s unclear if Bernier will be back in net since he’s lost all
three of his meetings with the Sabres behind a 3.39 goals-against
average. However, he’s stopped 67 of 69 shots through overtime
while losing the last two games via shootouts.
James Reimer has won all four home games against Buffalo with a
2.50 GAA, but he’s 1-1-0 with a 3.77 GAA while being pulled from
two of his last four starts.
James van Riemsdyk has scored two goals in each of the past two
home matchups with the Sabres. However, he hasn’t scored at the Air
Canada Centre since the Nov. 12 meeting with Buffalo, spanning 12