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Maple Leafs aim to keep rolling vs. Sabres

by John Kreiser

SABRES (13-27-5) at MAPLE LEAFS (23-20-5)


Last 10: Buffalo 4-4-2; Toronto 5-4-1

Season series: The Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres play for the fifth and final time. They've split the first four games; each team has won twice at home, once in regulation.

Big story: Things are looking brighter for Toronto, which will be trying for its third consecutive victory after a 4-3 road victory against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday. The Sabres, by far the NHL's lowest-scoring team, had a rare three-goal night but lost 4-3 at home to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Team Scope:

Sabres: Giving up the winning goal with 14.8 seconds remaining is never fun. But to interim coach Ted Nolan, allowing Philadelphia's Vincent Lecavalier to score in the final seconds is another part of the learning process.

"It's not a wasted opportunity," Nolan said. "I think it's just one of those things, the last goal, one of our defenseman knocks a guy, knocks down our goaltender, they get a shot and it goes through four guys to find the net. It's just one of those things, it just wasn't meant to be. We didn't play well enough to win and we have to learn to play a certain way."

Buffalo defenseman Tyler Myers will return after sitting out his three-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of New Jersey forward Dainius Zubrus on Jan. 4.

Maple Leafs: Toronto did something Tuesday that it was unable to do last spring: Hold on to a late lead against the Boston Bruins. The Bruins rallied in the third period of Game 7 to beat Toronto in overtime in their first-round playoff series, but the Maple Leafs held on for a 4-3 victory that gave Toronto back-to-back wins after a four-game losing streak.

Coach Randy Carlyle feels his team is starting to play the way he wants it to.

"They're better efforts. That's for sure," he said. “We've raised our compete level, and we're going to have to continue to do that to get points. That's the most frustrating part for our hockey club has been that we haven't been able to achieve that with any consistency for [48] games. And that's frustrating for the coaching staff, that's for sure."

Who's hot: Goaltender Ryan Miller, who's likely to get the start Wednesday, is 3-1-0 in his past four starts and has allowed six goals in that span. … Toronto center Tyler Bozak had two goals and an assist in the win against the Bruins, giving him five goals and 11 points in seven games since his return from an oblique injury.

Injury report: Sabres forward Drew Stafford (upper body) will play. Forward Cody McCormick (upper body) and defenseman Henrik Tallinder (upper body) are out. … Toronto center Dave Bolland (ankle) has missed more than two months; forward Trevor Smith (broken hand) has been out for nearly a month.

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