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Leafs hope to cure road woes in Buffalo

by Mike G. Morreale

MAPLE LEAFS (8-9-3) at SABRES (8-12-3)

TV -- TSN (HD), MSG-B (HD)

Last 10 -- Maple Leafs 3-5-2; Sabres 5-4-1

Season series -- This is the second of six meetings this season between the Northeast Division rivals. Buffalo won the first meeting, a 3-2 shootout decision Nov. 6 in Toronto. Rookie Tyler Ennis beat Jean-Sebastien Giguere with a nice deke in the fifth round of the shootout to snap a five-game winless streak for the Sabres. Buffalo notched the victory despite the fact goalie Ryan Miller sat out with a knee injury.

Big story -- The Leafs are bad on the road -- they're 2-5-1 away from the home -- while the Sabres are struggling at home, where they're just 3-8-1.

Team Scope:

Maple Leafs -- To say the Leafs are struggling away from Air Canada Centre is an understatement -- they're winless in their last six road games and haven't won away from home since Oct. 15. Leafs forward Clarke MacArthur feels the cure for the road blues is a positive start, particularly against a Sabres team that has struggled at home.

"When we score first you look at our team and we seem to pick up momentum and roll and the other teams have to come out of their comfort zones," MacArthur said.

Sabres -- The depleted Sabres, who are battling significant injuries throughout the lineup, have dropped three of four after a 4-0-1 run. Buffalo has lost two straight at home, each by one goal, most recently a 1-0 loss to the Penguins on Wednesday. Jhonas Enroth made 28 saves in place of Ryan Miller, who has been sidelined by a groin injury. Miller missed his second straight game Wednesday after playing through the injury during the third period of a 4-2 win against Los Angeles on Friday. Miller had gone 3-1 after missing six games with a hip injury.

Who's hot -- MacArthur, who leads the team with 18 points in 20 games, has produced 9 assists and 10 points over the last 10 games.

Injury report -- Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (groin), and forwards Drew Stafford (upper body) and Tim Connolly (groin) are day-to-day. Left wing Rob Niedermayer (knee surgery) is out for at least two weeks. Toronto is without goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere (groin), center Colby Armstrong (broken finger, fractured foot) and defenseman Dion Phaneuf (leg laceration).

Stat pack -- The Sabres lead the League in goals by defensemen. Buffalo's defense has accounted for 14 of the team's 56 goals this season (25 percent). After the Sabres, the next most prolific defense corps belongs to Washington (12).

Puck drop -- "When we're playing our best, we're a simple, effective team, not turning pucks over at blue lines. We're getting pucks out and getting pucks in. Nice, short passes instead of going 30 feet across the ice. We have to go just nine or 10 feet and make two or three of those."  --Toronto center Tim Brent.

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