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

solution.

Getting some players back healthy would improve their

chances.

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

puck.

“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

10.

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

games.