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Sabres seek to extend point streak against Leafs

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Five straight games without a regulation loss has team moving up

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at New York Islanders Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Game 35

Buffalo Sabres (16-11-7) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (16-14-4)

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST | Scotiabank Arena | Toronto, Ontario

TV: MSG

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Leafs Blog: Pension Plan Puppets

Know Your Opponent

Toronto Maple Leafs

Record: (16-14-4) | 36 PTS

Last 10: 6-4-0

Division Ranking: 4th in Atlantic Division

Conference Ranking: 10th in Eastern Conference

PP: 11th (20.6%)

PK: 26th (76.7%)

What to Watch

1. Stay afloat

The Sabres are up three points in the standings on the Maple Leafs, and cannot afford to lose this key matchup to their longtime rivals. It’s not going to be an easy task to take two on the road from the Leafs, who have garnered 60 percent - 18 of 30 - of their possible standing points on home ice. On the road, Buffalo has had the potential to earn 36 points, and have taken only 16. Since these two teams split a November series, Buffalo has been playing markedly better. They’ll need to continue to do so tonight.

2. Uneven strength

Special teams could be a determining factor in this evening’s matchup. There are few teams in the league that can say they are worse than Toronto in both power play and penalty kill success, but Buffalo is one of them. These two terrible special teams squads will face off in what may be an astonishingly mediocre show of uneven strength prowess, and it could happen fairly frequently in the game, with both teams in the bottom half of the league in penalties taken.

3. Calling all mos

Momentum exists in physics, but in sports, it’s more of an intangible thing. Still, it’s hard to argue that objects in motion stay in motion, even if that object is a team and the motion is up the standings. With points in each of the last five games, and nine of the last 10, it’s hard to argue that momentum doesn’t exist. Credit to head coach Ralph Kruger, who has done something that no coach has been able to do in far, far too long - pull the team out of a losing streak and right the ship. If he can keep the team moving in the right direction, it seems as though some postseason recognition could be in order...

Projected Lineup

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Victor Olofsson - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart

Jimmy Vesey - Marcus Johansson - Rasmus Asplund

Jeff Skinner - Evan Rodrigues -

Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Kyle Okposo

Defense

Brandon Montour - Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe - Colin Miller

Henri Jokiharju - Rasmus Dahlin

Marco Scandella

Starting Goaltender: Linus Ullmark (unconfirmed)

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forwards

Zach Hyman-John Tavares-Mitch Marner

Kasperi Kapanen-Auston Matthews-William Nylander

Pierre Engvall-Alexander Kerfoot-Ilya Mikheyev

Nic Petan-Jason Spezza-Pontus Aberg

Defense

Morgan Rielly-Tyson Barrie

Jake Muzzin-Justin Holl

Travis Dermott-Codi Ceci

Starting Goaltender: Frederik Andersen