Sabres-Maple Leafs Preview
GAME: Buffalo Sabres (29-30-6-1) at Toronto Maple Leafs (37-19-9-3).
TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.
Brian Leetch is clearly an excellent addition to the Toronto Maple Leafs. A
healthy Ed Belfour is even more important.
Belfour looks to lead the Maple Leafs to their fourth straight win and first
of the season against the Buffalo Sabres when the Northeast Division rivals
meet at Air Canada Centre.
Leetch, acquired from the New York Rangers on Wednesday, made an immediate
impact in his Maple Leafs' debut, setting up three goals in a 6-2 victory over
the New York Islanders on Thursday.
"To be able to put on the Leaf jersey was quite a feeling," said Leetch, a
two-time Norris Trophy winner who had spent his entire 17-year career with the
Rangers. "Everything went well right off the bat. To get that lead made it a
lot easier for me. The goal was to get through the day. This team has been
winning without me and the pressure is not to disrupt things."
Bryan McCabe benefited from having Leetch as his defense partner, finishing
with two goals and an assist.
"It's hard not to click with a guy like that," McCabe said. "You just
give him the puck and let him go."
Belfour held the Islanders scoreless before allowing a pair of power-play
goals late in the third period.
He has stopped 52 of 56 shots in three straight wins after missing 11 of 12
games with a back injury. Toronto was 4-6-1 without its No. 1 goaltender.
The Leafs held a 3-0 lead after the first period Thursday, outshooting the
Islanders 9-2. Toronto has outshot its last three opponents 43-12 in the
opening 20 minutes.
While Toronto is battling several teams for first place in the Eastern
Conference, Buffalo is hoping to make up ground on the struggling Islanders for
the final playoff berth.
Chris Drury scored twice and Miroslav Satan snapped a third-period tie as
the Sabres ended a four-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over Ottawa on
Wednesday in the finale of a home-and-home series.
The goal was the team-leading 25th of the season for Satan, whose name
continues to come up in rumors with Tuesday's trade deadline fast approaching.
"Whatever happens, happens," Satan said, adding that he hasn't asked to be
traded. "They'll probably try to do something so, whatever."
Sabres general manager Darcy Regier didn't completely dismiss the idea of
"There just isn't anything imminent. When we get closer to the deadline,
we'll see," Regier said.
Buffalo is tied with Florida for ninth in the East - eight points behind the
STANDINGS (through March 4): Sabres - 65 points, 5th place, 21 PB, Northeast
Division. Maple Leafs - 86 points, 1st place, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Sabres - Satan, 25 goals; Daniel Briere, 28 assists and 49
points; Andrew Peters, 114 PIM. Maple Leafs - Mats Sundin, 26 goals, 39 assists
and 65 points; Tie Domi, 167 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 4): Sabres - Power play: 15.9 percent (45 for
283), 17th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (242 for 286), 10th. Maple
Leafs - Power play: 20.0 percent (64 for 320), 5th. Penalty killing: 84.4
percent (271 for 321), 13th.
GOALTENDERS: Sabres - Martin Biron (18-13-4, 2.69 GAA); Mika Noronen
(11-15-2, 2, 2.47). Maple Leafs - Belfour (27-15-5, 6, 2.12); Trevor Kidd
(5-4-2, 1, 3.15).
SEASON SERIES: Sabres, 2-0-1.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 14; Sabres, 6-4. At Toronto, J.P. Dumont scored one goal
and set up three others, helping Buffalo rally from a three-goal deficit.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Sabres - 11-19-2-0 on the road; Maple Leafs - 19-10-2-2