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Buffalo Sabres (10-15-4) 24 pts
After Jhonas Enroth and Steve Ott led Buffalo to a 3-2 overtime win against Montreal on Tuesday, the Sabres will face another division foe tonight at the First Niagara Center. The Maple Leafs are fresh off of a 4-2 victory over the Lightning on Wednesday night, a game in which team-leading scorer Nazem Kadri contributed three assists.
Tonight, the two teams will close out the season series in Buffalo. The Maple Leafs have taken two of the first three games, including one in overtime, and have outscored the Sabres by a combined score of 8-6.
Despite sitting 13th in the Eastern Conference, the Sabres are eyeing a playoff spot, but will need to string together some wins in a hurry. Buffalo is six points out, but a victory against Toronto could have them just four points away from that final eighth spot.
“[Thursday] is obviously a big test for us,” Sabres captain Jason Pominville said. “[It’s] a team we’re trying to catch. It’s going to be a big game, a home game that it’d be nice to pull off and get ourselves closer to where we want to be.”
Buffalo may be without Thomas Vanek for tonight’s matchup. The Sabres leading scorer left Tuesday’s game after he suffered a lower-body injury due to a Christian Ehrhoff shot from the point.
However, the Sabres will likely have Ryan Miller back between the pipes after he received the night off in Montreal while Enroth earned his 2nd win of the season.
Toronto has been struggling as of late, winning four of the past ten, but remain 6th in the Conference. The Maple Leafs have three teams on its tail so nothing is secured as they need a win as well.
Buffalo will have to try and contain the Maple Leafs offense, which is ranked 6th in the league with 90 goals on the season. The Sabres have scored 79, which has them ranked 18th.
After tonight’s game, the Sabres will embark on a three game road swing, making a trip back to Montreal followed by visits to Florida and Tampa Bay.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game can be seen on MSG.
Toronto Maple Leafs (16-12-2) 32 pts