Preview: Sabres at Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs were foiled on two chances to establish franchise records Friday afternoon, but they will not have to wait long in their bid to extract some revenge. After dropping a 6-4 decision at Buffalo in the finale of a six-game road trip, Toronto hosts the Sabres on Saturday in the home coaching debut of Sheldon Keefe.
Denied in his bid to become the first coach in franchise history to win his first four games, Keefe is nonetheless eager to be behind the bench for the first time at Scotiabank Arena. "I'm excited for it, even more so now," said Keefe, who replaced the fired Mike Babcock on the road trip. "Things have been going well here, but what we want to be is a team that can sustain things going well and then when they don't, we want to be able to push back and get better quickly." The Sabres erased a two-goal deficit to prevent a sixth consecutive loss to the Maple Leafs, which would have marked Toronto's longest winning streak against Buffalo. Captain Jack Eichel scored twice as the skidding Sabres won for only the third time in their last 14 games overall (3-8-3).
TV: 7 p.m. ET, CBC, MSG-Buffalo, Sportsnet One, Sportsnet East/Ontario/Pacific (Toronto)
ABOUT THE SABRES (12-10-4): Eichel admitted to having some "extra motivation" with the large number of Toronto fans in attendance Friday and continued to light up the Maple Leafs, boosting his career totals to 12 goals and 19 points in 14 meetings. Eichel has been on a tear the past two weeks, collecting eight goals and seven assists during an eight-game point streak. Victor Olofsson has points in six straight and is the third Buffalo player -- and first since 1971 -- to be the league's first rookie with 10 goals in a season.
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (12-11-4): Captain John Tavares put up big numbers versus Buffalo while with the New York Islanders and has picked up the pace since joining Toronto, scoring twice Friday to give him five goals and four assists in five matchups. Auston Matthews and William Nylander were a combined minus-7 Friday after playing monster minutes, checking in at 24:48 and 23:10, respectively. Frederik Andersen, who has won his last three starts, allowed eight goals in winning all three starts versus Buffalo last season.
1. Sabres G Carter Hutton has lost seven straight starts (0-5-2) and yielded 19 goals in his last four.
2. Maple Leafs D Morgan Rielly notched his 20th point Friday but saw his goal drought reach 15 games.
3. Sabres F Jimmy Vesey has goals in three straight games after failing to score in his first 20.
PREDICTION: Maple Leafs 4, Sabres 3