Leafs look to get back on track with trip to Sabres
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When the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Buffalo Sabres Wednesday night, there will be plenty of incentive to win for both teams.
The Maple Leafs are trying to right themselves for the playoffs after a stretch in which they have allowed 26 goals in dropping four of five games, including a 3-0 road loss to the Nashville Predators Tuesday night.
The Sabres will be trying to win two games in a row for the first time since mid-December, a stretch of 40 games. The franchise mark is 44 games without winning at least two in a row set in 1971-72.
The Sabres, who ended a seven-game losing streak Sunday with a 4-3 shootout victory over the St. Louis Blues, are 0-10-1 in their past 11 attempts to win two consecutive games.
Buffalo is about a two-hour drive from Toronto so the games between the teams already have a special atmosphere.
"The games here against the Leafs are a lot of fun to play in," Sabres right winger Kyle Okposo told the Buffalo News after practice Tuesday. "A lot of people from Toronto come down and I know we haven't beaten these guys in a while so I'm really looking forward to a great test."
The Sabres are 0-2-1 this season against the Maple Leafs and their four-game losing streak (0-3-1) against them is their longest since five straight losses in 1972.
The Sabres are 19-4-2 in their past 25 home games against the Maple Leafs, but have lost two straight. The Maple Leafs have not won three in a row in Buffalo since winning the first six meetings in Memorial Auditorium during the first two seasons after the Sabres entered the NHL in 1970.
The Maple Leafs won 4-3 in overtime in Buffalo Dec. 4 and won 5-3 and 5-2 Feb. 25 and March 2, respectively, in Toronto.
"The first game we played against them here, I thought we played a really strong game," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. "It was an up-and-down game and we were aggressive, we were on the forecheck. The last two games we played, it was just a couple little mental lapses, two- and three-minute spans."
There are similarities to this meeting to the game played in December, except that time the Sabres were the team that played games on consecutive nights starting with a 2-1 loss in Nashville Dec. 3.
"We had a hard game in Nashville the night before," Okposo said. "You always want to jump on a team playing a back-to-back, especially with travel. I don't know what it is but it seems a lot of teams have come out flying, especially if they played the night before. Maybe later in the game you wear them down. We'll have to be ready."
The Maple Leafs played better on Tuesday than they have in recent games in a grinding, playoff-style game in Nashville. Toronto held Nashville to two shots in the second period and 20 on the game, including an empty-net goal by Filip Forsberg.
"It's been a little frustrating," Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri said. "We understand the group we have, and how good we can be, and the potential we have. Stretches like this make you a better team. You want to battle some adversity at some point in the year, and you want to overcome that and make your team stronger."
--Field Level Media
Updated March 20, 2019