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Sabres aim for season sweep of Leafs

by Brian Compton
SABRES (43-23-10) at MAPLE LEAFS (28-36-13)

Last 10: Buffalo 7-2-1; Toronto 6-3-1.

Season Series: This is the sixth and final meeting between the Northeast Division rivals. Buffalo has won each of the first five matchups. The squads most recently met on Jan. 8, when the Sabres earned a 3-2 victory at HSBC Arena.

Big Story: After missing the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Sabres are hoping to nail down the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. They enter Thursday's action atop the Northeast Division and one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who lead New Jersey by one in the Atlantic.

Team Scope:

Sabres: Combined with Pittsburgh 2-0 loss to Tampa Bay, the Sabres moved into second place in the East with a 6-2 win against the Florida Panthers at HSBC Arena on Wednesday night. Raffi Torres had three assists for Buffalo, which outshot Florida 41-15 despite missing top forwards Tim Connolly (foot) and Thomas Vanek (lower body).

"It's a big step when you have that much depth," said forward Jason Pominville, who scored his team-leading 24th goal. "Guys have stepped in at different moments and played well, and I think the two guys who got called up brought energy to the team."

Maple Leafs: Toronto suffered its second straight setback on Tuesday night, when it came up short in a 3-2 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers at the Air Canada Centre. It officially eliminated the Leafs from playoff contention for the fifth straight season.

"We handed them the game,'' said coach Ron Wilson. "They did some things well, but we just gave them the game, essentially. Unfortunately.''

Who's Hot: Sabres rookie defenseman Tyler Myers has 10 points in his last nine games. … Leafs forward Viktor Stalberg had both of his team's goals on Tuesday, his sixth and seventh of the season.

Injury Report: For the Sabres, Connolly and Vanek are both unlikely to play, while right wing Patrick Kaleta (thumb) is expected to miss the remainder of the regular season. … Leafs defensemen Mike Komisarek (shoulder) and Mike Van Ryn (knee) are out for the season.

Stat Pack: Luke Schenn -- who was selected in the first round (No. 5) in 2008 -- is the only player on the Leafs' roster with 100 blocked shots and 100 hits.

Puck Drop: "We look at all lines as lines that should be able to produce. They did a nice job of getting pucks to the net. They got good traffic. They got rewarded for a lot of really good work." -- Sabres coach Lindy Ruff after Wednesday's 6-2 win against Florida

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