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Sabres-Maple Leafs Preview

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:47 AM

Associated Press

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Sabres-Maple Leafs Preview
Buffalo Sabres vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

If they hope to make up ground in the playoff race, the Toronto Maple Leafs will need to figure out a way to rediscover home-ice advantage to beat the Buffalo Sabres.

The Maple Leafs look to salvage a split of their home-and-home set with the Sabres when the series shifts to the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.

With 80 points, Toronto (35-29-10) is in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, but just two points behind defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina and Montreal, which are tied for the eighth and final playoff spot. The Maple Leafs have dropped three of their last four games, including a 5-4 loss Friday in Buffalo.

Toronto blew a three-goal third-period lead by giving up four goals less than 9 minutes apart, losing to the Sabres for the third straight time and fifth in seven games this season.

The win moved Buffalo (48-19-7) two points ahead of idle Nashville in the race for the President's Trophy.

"Wow, what do you say," Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin said. "That's a heartbreaker to lose a game like that."

Toronto has scored just seven goals while losing four straight at the Air Canada Centre to the Sabres, and is 2-6-1 with a tie in its last 10 at home against their Northeast Division rivals.

The Maple Leafs will be looking to extend their season-high home win streak to five games - a run that came after back-to-back losses to the Sabres on Feb. 27 and March 3.

"We have to get a win for sure," Leafs defenseman Ian White said.

Drew Stafford scored the game-winner for Buffalo with just under six minutes to play on Friday. The Sabres have bounced back after a four-game skid by winning four of their last five to move seven points ahead of second-place Ottawa in the Northeast.

They also have earned a point in six straight games and rallied from two three-goal deficits in the third period this season.

"It's good for us," Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller said on the team"s official Web site. "We have to have that ability come playoff time, to not get down on ourselves and just continue to play hockey. It's a good lesson tonight."

Thomas Vanek had two goals and an assist Friday. He leads Buffalo with 37 goals and has three goals and six assists during a five-game point streak.

"He got some big goals for us," Jason Pominville said on the site when asked about Vanek. "He's really a talented player, and once he gets going, he's hard to stop. I think he showed it tonight. It was a playoff game, a playoff atmosphere."

Boyd Devereaux had two goals for the Maple Leafs, who got a lift with the return of defenseman Tomas Kaberle.

Kaberle, who had missed eight games with a concussion after being checked into the boards by New Jersey's Cam Janssen on March 2, had one assist in nearly 22 minutes of ice time. Kaberle and Sundin are tied for the team lead with 41 assists each.

2006-2007 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 24 '07 BUF 1 at TOR 4 D. Tucker
Mar 23 '07 TOR 4 at BUF 5 D. Stafford
Mar 03 '07 BUF 3 at TOR 1 D. Stafford
Feb 27 '07 BUF 6 at TOR 1 D. Stafford
Jan 11 '07 TOR 4 at BUF 2 A. Steen
Jan 06 '07 BUF 4 at TOR 3 A. Kotalik
Nov 22 '06 TOR 4 at BUF 7 D. Briere
Nov 04 '06 TOR 4 at BUF 1 D. Tucker
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