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Sabres can sweep home-and-home vs. Maple Leafs

by Sean McCullen

SABRES (5-15-1) at MAPLE LEAFS (11-7-1)


Last 10: Buffalo 4-6-0; Toronto 4-5-1

Season series: The Buffalo Sabres defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 Friday in the first game of a home-and-home. It was the first of five regular-season games between the teams. Buffalo and Toronto play three times in November and again Dec. 27.

Big story: Buffalo's win against Toronto came in its first game under Ted Nolan, who was named interim coach Wednesday when Ron Rolston was fired after 20 games. Nolan coached the Sabres from 1995-97.

"You know what? I can't even put it into words," Nolan said of his first win as an NHL coach since 2008. "It was one of those games where you didn't know where this type of day would ever happen again. It was really very emotional. I'll have a good cry after everybody leaves."

Team Scope:

Sabres: Back-to-back wins against the Los Angeles Kings and Toronto gave Buffalo consecutive victories for the first time this season.

Ryan Miller has a lot to do with the modest winning streak. Miller made 43 saves and stopped both shooters he faced in the shootout of the 3-2 win Tuesday against the Kings, then stopped 32 of 33 shots against Toronto.

Miller credited defenseman Christian Ehrhoff with the best save Friday. Ehrhoff stopped James van Riemsdyk from point-blank range with less than a minute to play in the third after Miller found himself out of the crease.

"Christian Ehrhoff had the play of the game and saved our butts, and then he put it away (with an empty-net goal)," Miller said. "It was a great turn of events there to watch him make that play on the back side, have great awareness to find it and help me out."

Maple Leafs: Toronto has struggled since a 6-1-0 start, going 5-6-1 in its past 12 games, including three straight losses in which they have three goals total.

The Maple Leafs are giving up a lot of shots, ranking 28th in the League at 35.9 per game. Toronto allowed 27 to Buffalo, which came into the game Friday averaging an NHL-worst 24.8.

Solid goaltending from Jonathan Bernier (2.05 goals-against average, .938 save percentage) and James Reimer (2.30, .942) has allowed the Maple Leafs to stay in the top half of the Atlantic Division.

"You're going to go through those kinds of situations in a year that you've got to stand on your head, and sometimes you'll play a bad game and guys will score five, six for you," Bernier said. "We've just got to find that touch again. It's a big game in our building [Saturday], and we've got to come out strong and get [those] two points."

Center Nazem Kadri is serving a three-game suspension for a hit Wednesday on Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom. Kadri can return for the Maple Leafs' game Nov. 21 against the Nashville Predators. Peter Holland was acquired Saturday from the Anaheim Ducks and should be in the lineup.

Who's hot: Sabres forward Steve Ott scored a goal and assisted on Marcus Foligno's game-winner Friday. Ott has three points in his past two games after going without a point the five prior. … Bernier has stopped 87 of 91 shots in his past three starts but is 1-1-1.

Injury report: Sabres defenseman Mike Weber (thumb) is on injured reserve. … Maple Leafs forwards Dave Bolland (ankle) and Tyler Bozak (lower body) are on IR.

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