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Preview: Sabres at Maple Leafs

Buffalo missing injured defenseman Cody Franson; Toronto forward James van Riemsdyk playing 500th NHL game

by Dave McCarthy / NHL.com Correspondent

SABRES (22-22-10) at MAPLE LEAFS (25-17-11)

7 p.m. ET; CBC, MSG-B, NHL.TV

 

Sabres team scope

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Cody Franson injured his foot blocking a shot in a 5-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday and is expected to miss 2-3 weeks. "We're looking at a bone bruise at this point in time," coach Dan Bylsma said. The Sabres enter Saturday seven points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division and six behind the Boston Bruins for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. "Real simple, barring a 60-plus minute game, we're going to be five points behind the Leafs or nine points after the game," Bylsma said. "This is a chance in your division, head to head, to grab two points and not let them get the two points." The Sabres are 9-13-6 on the road this season and 2-6-1 in their past nine road games. "It's a hard one to answer," goaltender Robin Lehner said. "We just have to get better on the road, it's hard to pinpoint sometimes but we definitely have to be better on the road if we are going to make a run."

 

Maple Leafs team scope

Toronto Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk will play in his 500th NHL regular-season game. "It flies by for sure," van Riemsdyk said. "It's a cool milestone definitely. It feels like just yesterday I was starting out, but hopefully I have 500 more at least to go." He is on pace for 67 points, which would be an NHL career high. Goaltender Frederik Andersen will make his second consecutive start. He is 1-1-2 in his past five starts, and has allowed 21 goals during that span, but made 38 saves in a 2-1 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday. "Once you start playing well, you don't forget about the struggles but you keep going about your day and your game weighs less on your mind," Andersen said. "If you don't perform, you take it back with you when you go home but if you do well, you don't really think about it when you're not at the rink. It's something I've been getting better at." The Maple Leafs will try to win their third consecutive game against the Sabres this season. They won 2-1 at Buffalo on Nov. 3 and 4-3 at Air Canada Centre on Jan. 17.

Sabres projected lineup

Justin Bailey -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Kyle Okposo

Sam Reinhart -- Jack Eichel -- Evander Kane

Marcus Foligno -- Evan Rodrigues -- Brian Gionta

Tyler Ennis -- Derek Grant -- Matt Moulson

Rasmus Ristolainen -- Jake McCabe

Josh Gorges -- Dmitry Kulikov

Justin Falk -- Taylor Fedun

Robin Lehner

Anders Nilsson

Scratched: Nicolas Deslauriers

Injured: Johan Larsson (wrist, elbow), William Carrier (knee), Zach Bogosian (rib), Zemgus Girgensons (middle body), Cody Franson (foot)

 

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 -- Ben Smith -- Josh Leivo

Morgan Rielly -- Nikita Zaitsev

Jake Gardiner -- Connor Carrick

Matt Hunwick -- Roman Polak

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched:  Martin Marincin, Alexey Marchenko

Injured: Nikita Soshnikov (upper body)

 

Status Report

Girgensons will remain out of the lineup. He is more than day to day with a middle-body injury, Bylsma said. … The Sabres recalled Rodrigues from Rochester of the American Hockey League. … Soshnikov will miss his second consecutive game. "He skated here today," coach Mike Babcock said. "The coaches put him through the paces so we'll see when he's ready."

 

Who's hot

Eichel has five points (one goal, four assists) in his past four games. Okposo has four points (two goals, two assists) in a four-game point streak. ... Kadri has 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) in his past 17 games. Marner has seven points (three goals, four assists) in his past six games. Nylander has five points (four goals, one assist) in his past four games. Matthews has five points (two goals, three assists) in his past four games.

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