SABRES (17-17-9) at MAPLE LEAFS (20-13-8)
7:30 p.m. ET; SNO, MSG-B, NHL.TV
Sabres team scope
Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel will play against Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews for the first time in the NHL. The two know each other well having played together with the U.S National Under-18 team and for Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey 2016. "He's a good guy, I know him pretty well," said Eichel, who missed a 2-1 loss to the Maple Leafs on Nov. 3 game while recovering from a high ankle sprain. "I spent a lot of time with him, he's a good dude so I'm happy to see him having success. I look forward to playing against him tonight." The Sabres play the second of back-to-back games after defeating the Dallas Stars 4-1 on Monday. Goalie Robin Lehner will start after making 31 saves against the Stars. Forward Tyler Ennis scored 19 seconds into his first game since Nov. 7 after missing 30 because of a groin injury. "It adds certainly a different dynamic to our line with Ryan O'Reilly and Kyle Okposo," coach Dan Bylsma said. "He has speed and agility and can really pull off anything at a moment's notice. It adds a little bit more of a dynamic to our top lines."
Maple Leafs team scope
The Maple Leafs begin the second half of their season tied with the Ottawa Senators (48 points) for third place in the Atlantic Division. They have won their past two games and are 8-1-1 in their past 10 after going 2-4-3 in their previous nine. "We're happy with where we are at but we know we have a long way to go so I think it is a little bit of a balance," defenseman Morgan Rielly said. "We should be proud of what we've been able to do in the past 10 games but we're only halfway through. We have a lot of hockey left to play. We have to be aware the push starts now, teams come back from their breaks and they're ready to play." Coach Mike Babcock did his best to temper the growing excitement for the Maple Leafs' recent success. "We have a lot of work to do," Babcock said. "We're 41 games in. Let's just everybody try to get better here today. If we do that, we have a chance to be a good team as we move ahead." Goalie Frederik Andersen will start after backing up Curtis McElhinney in a 4-2 win against Ottawa on Saturday.
Sabres projected lineup
Tyler Ennis -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Kyle Okposo
Marcus Foligno -- Jack Eichel -- Sam Reinhart
Evander Kane -- Zemgus Girgensons -- Brian Gionta
Matt Moulson -- Cal O'Reilly -- Will Carrier
Jake McCabe -- Rasmus Ristolainen
Zach Bogosian -- Cody Franson
Justin Falk -- Taylor Fedun
Scratched: Nicolas Deslauriers
Injured: Johan Larsson (wrist/hand); Josh Gorges (hip); Dmitry Kulikov (back)
Maple Leafs projected lineup
James van Riemsdyk -- Tyler Bozak -- Mitchell Marner
Leo Komarov -- Nazem Kadri -- William Nylander
Zach Hyman -- Auston Matthews -- Connor Brown
Matt Martin -- Frederik Gauthier -- Nikita Soshnikov
Morgan Rielly -- Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner -- Connor Carrick
Matt Hunwick -- Roman Polak
Scratched: Josh Leivo, Frank Corrado
Injured: Ben Smith (hand), Martin Marincin (lower body)
Gorges will see a doctor in the next two days to get a further update on his condition, according to Bylsma. … Smith is scheduled to have the pins inserted during hand surgery removed Thursday. He has not played since a 2-1 overtime win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Dec. 17. "We could obviously really use him," Babcock said. "He's a diligent pro and does things right. He's skating good." … Marincin participated in the morning skate but is not ready to return.
Eichel scored twice and had 10 of Buffalo's 29 shots on Monday. … Ryan O'Reilly has one goal and six assists in his past seven games. … Brown has five goals and two assists in his past six games. … Marner has six assists during a three-game point streak. He has nine points (2-7-9) in his past six games. … Bozak has three goals and five assists during a five-game point streak. Kadri has five goals and two assists during a five-game point streak.