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01/21/2013
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Leafs set for home opener against Sabres

Monday, 01.21.2013 / 11:54 AM

SABRES (1-0-0) at MAPLE LEAFS (1-0-0)

TV: MSG, SNET-ONTARIO

Season series: The teams split the season series in 2011-12, though Toronto earned an extra point with an overtime loss. There were five one-goal games among the six contests.

Big story: Both teams missed the playoffs last season, and one of them will be off to a 2-0-0 start with a victory in this contest.

Team Scope:

Sabres: Buffalo finished last season 16th in the League on the power play, but the Sabres lit up the Philadelphia Flyers with three extra-man tallies in a 5-2 victory Sunday at First Niagara Center. Thomas Vanek had a five-point day to grab an early lead in the NHL scoring race, and linemate Jason Pominville had three assists.

Cody Hodgson, the center on their line, also had a strong game to start his first full season with the Sabres, and scored a key insurance goal after Tyler Myers had given Buffalo the lead late in the third period.

One of the Sabres’ new additions, Steve Ott, had the first power-play goal of the contest. Ott was expected to add toughness, but it was Drew Stafford who took exception to a Scott Hartnell and challenged him to a fight.

Maple Leafs: Toronto scored a 2-1 victory Saturday night at rival Montreal. Coach Randy Carlyle made a surprise choice in net, going with Ben Scrivens instead of expected starter James Reimer and the move paid off. Scrivens had been playing for the Toronto Marlies in the American Hockey League during the lockout, while Reimer looked rusty at times during the team’s brief training camp.

Nazem Kadri had one of the goals for the Leafs, and a strong start from him would be a boon for his development and the franchise. The seventh pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, Kadri hasn’t been able to establish himself as a regular in the Leafs lineup despite incredible pressure to do so. Kadri was the highest-drafted forward by Toronto since Scott Thornton at No. 3 overall in 1989.

Injury report: Nathan Gerbe (back) is on injured reserve for the Sabres, while Ville Leino (lower body) was scratched from the season opener. Cody McCormick (finger) is also on IR for Buffalo. Toronto has just one injury, but it is a key guy. Defenseman Jake Gardiner is not ready for the start of the season because of a concussion.

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