|TOR||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||0|
|BUF||2||2||2||(0 - 0)||6|
GAME: Toronto Maple Leafs (40-32-8) at Buffalo Sabres (50-24-6).
TIME: Sunday, 5 p.m. EDT.
The Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves in unfamiliar positions as they meet for the final time in the regular season.
Buffalo will be preparing for its first playoff appearance since 2001 while Toronto will play out its schedule after missing the postseason for the first time since 1998.
The Sabres have clinched the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference, and will host either the Flyers or Devils in the opening round of the playoffs.
Buffalo also is finishing strong as it gets ready for postseason play, completing a home-and-home sweep of Montreal on Saturday as Chris Drury and J.P. Dumont scored early in the third period to erase a one-goal deficit in a 4-2 win.
"It was huge. We didn't hear a peep after that, the only things we heard were on our bench and it just gave us the momentum back and we never looked back after that," said Dumont after Drury's short-handed goal tied the score at two.
Dumont scored just over two minutes later to make it 3-2 and defenseman Teppo Numminen scored in the final minute.
Buffalo, which posted a 3-1 win Wednesday over the Canadiens, will wrap up the regular season on Tuesday versus Eastern Conference-leading Carolina.
Toronto scored all its goals in the first two periods Saturday to beat Ottawa 5-1 and keep its faint playoff hopes alive. But the Leafs - 8-0-2 in their last 10 games - saw their streak of six straight postseason appearances end minutes later when Tampa Bay defeated Carolina 3-2 in overtime
"It's heartbreaking to find out it's not going to happen," said Leafs forward Darcy Tucker, whose team has not won the Stanley Cup since 1967. "You live to the play in the playoffs. Besides having children and a family there is nothing better in life than winning hockey games in the playoffs.
"It's like having your heart ripped out."
Added defenseman Bryan McCabe: "The season is a failure. You only get so many opportunities to play for a Stanley Cup."
While Toronto is not playing after Tuesday, the Leafs may have discovered a new starting goaltender for next season. Jean-Sebastien Aubin, who played most of the season in the American Hockey League, finished with 30 saves to improve to 8-0-2 since being recalled March 14.
Ed Belfour, second on the all-time list with 457 career wins, underwent back surgery last month to repair a herniated disc. The 41-year-old future Hall of Famer almost certainly will not be back with the team next season.
Toronto ends the regular season at home against Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
STANDINGS: Maple Leafs - 88 points, 4th place, 23 PB, Northeast Division. Sabres - 106 points, 2nd place, 5 PB, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Maple Leafs - Mats Sundin, 29 goals and 74 points; Tomas Kaberle, 57 assists; McCabe, 114 PIM. Sabres - Drury, 27 goals; Maxim Afinogenov, 48 assists and 70 points; Andrew Peters, 84 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Maple Leafs - Power play: 21.6 percent (106 for 490), 2nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.1 percent (386 for 482), 24th. Sabres - Power play: 21.0 percent (97 for 463), 3rd. Penalty killing: 86.2 percent (369 for 428), 2nd.
GOALTENDERS: Maple Leafs - Aubin (8-0-2, 1 SO, 2.07 GAA); Mikael Tellqvist (10-10-2, 2, 3.00). Sabres - Ryan Miller (29-14-3, 0, 2.65); Martin Biron (20-8-3, 0, 2.98).
SEASON SERIES: Sabres, 5-2.
LAST MEETING: April 3; Sabres, 3-2 (SO). At Toronto, Afinogenov scored the lone goal in the shootout while Biron stopped all three Maple Leaf attempts. Johnny Pohl and Matt Stajan scored in regulation for Toronto.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Maple Leafs - 15-20-5 on the road; Sabres - 26-11-3 at home.
|Apr 16 '06||TOR 0 at BUF 6||B. Campbell|
|Apr 03 '06||BUF 3 at TOR 2 - SO||M. Afinogenov|
|Apr 01 '06||BUF 0 at TOR 7||J. O'Neill|
|Mar 16 '06||TOR 1 at BUF 3||M. Grier|
|Mar 03 '06||TOR 2 at BUF 6||D. Briere|
|Jan 26 '06||BUF 8 at TOR 4||J. Pominville|
|Dec 29 '05||BUF 3 at TOR 4 - SO||M. Sundin|
|Nov 11 '05||TOR 2 at BUF 5||T. Connolly|