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Game Day Preview

Saturday, 30.11.2002 / 12:00 AM / News
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Game Day Preview
GAME: Buffalo Sabres (4-13-4-1) at Toronto Leafs (10-11-2-0).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.

Ed Belfour is finally feeling at home with his new team.

Belfour looks to continue carving his niche in Toronto as the Maple Leafs take on the hapless Buffalo Sabres at the Air Canada Centre.

Belfour surpassed Patrick Roy with his 62nd career shutout Friday as the Maple Leafs beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-0.

Belfour has three shutouts in hislast five games.
Graig Abel Photography
In his 17th season, Belfour tied Turk Broda for 11th place on the career shutout list. He has four this season, and three in his last five games, helping Toronto to a 4-1-0 mark in that stretch.

However, Belfour thinks his strong play has more to do with the Maple Leafs' defense than his own prowess between the pipes.

"I think that we are playing more as a team, especially defensively," Belfour said. "We're not getting caught out of position near as often, we're moving the puck well back there, and we're communicating with the defense."

After spending five seasons in Dallas, Belfour found himself a free agent as the Stars opted not to sign him in the offseason. He found a home in Toronto, taking over after free agent Curtis Joseph left for Detroit.

The 37-year-old Belfour has started the last eight games for Toronto and has allowed just 13 goals during that stretch.

"I don't want to wear him down, but he's hot right now," Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn said. "Sometimes you've got to ride the gray horse."

The Sabres have just one win over their last 16 game (1-11-3-1) with Friday's 4-1 setback to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Stu Barnes scored for Buffalo, which has been limited to one goal in four of its last six games.

"We had 40-plus shots and could have had 60," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "If our key players don't finish with the opportunities they have, then we have no chance of winning."

STANDINGS:
Sabres - 13 points, 5th place, 21 PB, Northeast Division.
Maple Leafs - 21 points, 4th place, 12 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS:
Sabres - Chris Gratton, 8 goals, 10 assists and 18 points; Eric Boulton, 115 PIM.
Maple Leafs - Alexander Mogilny, 11 goals and 25 points; Mogilny and Robert Svehla, 14 assists; Tie Domi, 40 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 28):
Sabres - Power play: 10.4 percent (12 for 115), 30th. Penalty killing: 84.4 percent (108 for 128), 13th.
Maple Leafs - Power play: Power play: 21.6 percent (25 for 116), 3rd. Penalty killing: 85.6 percent (107 for 125), 9th.

GOALTENDERS:
Sabres - Martin Biron (3-9-3, 0 SO 2.65); Mika Noronen (0-4-1, 2.76).
Maple Leafs - Belfour (9-7-2, 4, 2.21 GAA); Trevor Kidd (1-4-0, 4.24).

SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 15; Maple Leafs, 3-2. At Buffalo, N.Y., Mogilny netted a pair of goals within a 2:13 span of the second period to lift Toronto over Buffalo. Mikael Renberg also scored and Belfour stopped 35 shots for the Maple Leafs. Barnes and Tim Connolly scored for Buffalo.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS:
Sabres - 1-7-2-1 on the road;
Maple Leafs - 7-7-1-0 at home.
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