TORONTO -- Tonight at Air Canada Centre, the Toronto Maple Leafs will aim for a perfect 4-0 homestand as they host the Buffalo Sabres in the first game of a home-and-home series. Jonas Gustavsson, 8-3-0 in his last 11 starts, gets the nod in goal for the fourth straight game.
"It's all about finding that push everyday," Gustavsson said of the Leafs' drive for a playoff spot. "You can't relax or take any nights off, you've really got to fight every game because it's going to be tight the whole way."
One of the keys to the Leafs' recent run has been discipline, limiting opposition power-play chances against their penalty kill, ranked 30th in the League at 73.6 percent. In each of the last two games, wins over the Jets and Red Wings, they have been shorthanded just once and killed off that chance.
Coach Ron Wilson commented on the keys to staying out of the penalty box.
"Using good position, moving your feet is important, but the most important thing is keeping your sticks on the ice, which is good defense anyway," Wilson said. "It's an extra obstacle for the other team to pass around. When you raise your sticks and go at hands and arms or cross-check across backs, one of your weapons is up in the air and you give up a passing lane."
Ryan Miller starts between the pipes for the Sabres, who have won just twice in their last 10 games and lost six straight road games. According to Miller, the Sabres need to remain positive.
"Once you get a little too fixated on looking for mistakes and how to fix that, you get away from playing the way you should be playing," Miller said. "You've got to go out there with a clear mind, free and easy, enjoy the game and work hard. We've got to focus on the things we have to do to be a good team, getting above the puck, staying tight as a group, sticking up for each other and just playing some hockey."
Buffalo's struggling offense could get a boost with the return of center Derek Roy, who injured his shoulder Friday against Carolina and missed Saturday's 2-1 overtime loss to Winnipeg. Roy will be a game-time decision.
"He was better this morning than he was yesterday," coach Lindy Ruff said following the game-day skate. "We'll let him go for warmup and see where he's at. He feels he's close."
Ruff stressed the importance of the game for the Sabres, mired in 11th place in the Eastern Conference with 41 points, facing a team six points ahead in the standings.
"We've got to step forward, it starts with one game. Urgency has to be at a premium," he said.
Here are the projected lineups for tonight:
Thomas Vanek - Jochen Hecht - Jason Pominville
Brad Boyes - Ville Leino - Drew Stafford
Patrick Kaleta - Paul Gaustad - Nathan Gerbe
Matt Ellis - Luke Adam - Cody McCormick
Tyler Myers - Brayden McNabb
Robyn Regehr - Jordan Leopold
Mike Weber - Marc-Andre Gragnani
Joffrey Lupul - Tim Connolly - Phil Kessel
Joey Crabb - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Clarke MacArthur - Matthew Lombardi - Nazem Kadri
Darryl Boyce - David Steckel - Mike Brown
Keith Aulie - Dion Phaneuf
Carl Gunnarsson - Luke Schenn
Cody Franson - Mike Komisarek