SABRES (10-24-3) at MAPLE LEAFS (18-16-5)
TV: TSN, MSG-B
Last 10: Buffalo 4-4-2; Toronto 3-5-2
Season series: This is the fourth of five games between the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs. The Sabres have won two of the first three, most recently 3-2 on Nov. 29 courtesy of an overtime goal by Christian Ehrhoff. Ryan Miller has won both his starts against Toronto with a 1.49 goals-against average and .947 save percentage.
Big story: As the Christmas break ends, the final countdown to the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic is on for the Maple Leafs. But before they face the Detroit Red Wings in front of more than 100,000 fans at Michigan Stadium, there are a couple of indoor games to be played and the Sabres have already proven they can't be taken lightly.
Sabres: No one is getting ahead of themselves and talking Stanley Cup Playoffs just yet, but Buffalo entered the break with three wins in four games, at least a mini-hot streak. And the players' efforts are being noticed. In the Sabres' 2-1 home win against the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday, the fans at First Niagara Center were at their loudest when Tyler Ennis scored late in the third period to set up an eventual overtime triumph.
"It was fantastic," forward John Scott told the Buffalo News. "I know our record. I know where we are. But to have the crowd behind us like that is unbelievable. It's something you can't describe on the ice. You get goose bumps and you feel the energy in the crowd."
Maple Leafs: A 2-1 shootout loss at the New York Rangers on Monday was the seventh in nine games for Toronto, which currently holds fifth place in the Atlantic Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference. A number of competitors have been closing ground fast, however, and the Maple Leafs understand they need to find the level of consistency shown early in the season if they want to ensure a second consecutive postseason berth.
"We've been good and then we've been not so good," forward Nazem Kadri told Sportsnet. "The bottom line is that we've got to find consistency. In this League, you've got to win a few games in a row to kind of give yourself some breathing room."
Who's hot: Sabres rookie Zemgus Girgensons has three goals and three assists in his past nine games. Miller has won four of five starts, allowing two goals or fewer in each game. ... Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier stopped 42 of 43 shots against the Rangers and has a .960 save percentage over his past three appearances.
Injury report: Buffalo forward Cody Hodgson (upper body) is day-to-day. Forwards Cody McCormick (upper body) and Kevin Porter (lower body) are on injured reserve. ... Toronto forwards Dave Bolland (ankle), Tyler Bozak (oblique) and Trevor Smith (hand) are on injured reserve.