Though the Buffalo Sabres are currently included in the Eastern Conference's postseason mix, they didn't play much like contenders in their latest game.
While trying to regroup from a poor performance, the Sabres will also be seeking their seventh win in nine meetings with the Toronto Maple Leafs in a Northeast Division matchup Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre.
After failing to reach the playoffs for the third straight season in 2007-08, Buffalo is currently tied with Florida for eighth place in the East.
The Sabres (29-22-6) suffered their third loss in four games Sunday - a 3-0 defeat to visiting Carolina - and are 5-5-1 since a three-game winning streak from Jan. 15-19.
"It's unacceptable," Sabres captain Craig Rivet said. "They had more desperation. They worked harder. They beat us (Sunday night) in every aspect."
Buffalo was outshot for the seventh time in 10 contests and couldn't support goalies Ryan Miller and Patrick Lalime, who combined to make 44 saves.
"It's a tough situation on our goaltenders when we're leaving them out to dry like that," Rivet said. "It's disrespectful to those guys behind us."
The Sabres, though, are 5-2-1 in their last eight games against the Maple Leafs (21-25-10) and may be in the right venue to bounce back. They have won four straight at Toronto by a combined 18-7 margin and outscored the Maple Leafs 9-1 in winning the last two games between the teams, including a 5-0 rout at home Feb. 4.
Toronto had dropped five of six (1-3-2) at Air Canada Centre entering the opener of its four-game homestand Sunday night, but rallied from an early 2-0 deficit by scoring six unanswered goals - five in the third period - en route to a 6-2 victory over reeling Pittsburgh.
Nik Antropov and Matt Stajan each contributed a goal and two assists, while Vesa Toskala finished with 25 saves for the Maple Leafs, who have collected points in six of their last eight games (4-2-2) following an 0-2-2 slide from Jan. 16-27.
"We got pucks deep, we had our skating legs, we forechecked well, we had a lot of shots on net," said Jason Blake, who scored twice to increase his team-leading totals to 21 goals and 44 points. "Overall, I thought it was a great team effort and Vesa played great."
Blake has eight goals and seven assists in his last 10 games. While he has 10 goals and eight assists in 35 career matchups against the Sabres, he's failed to score in three games against them this season.
Toskala made 24 saves in a 2-1 victory over the Sabres on Dec. 12 and has split six lifetime matchups while posting a 2.37 goals-against average.
Miller, who needed only 16 saves for his shutout on Feb. 4, has allowed three goals on 77 shots in starting all 2008-09 games versus the Maple Leafs, improving to 14-7-0 with a 2.43 GAA in 21 career starts. Lalime has also faired well against them, going 12-6-0 with a 2.52 GAA in 19 lifetime matchups.
Either netminder will be seeking offensive support from Derek Roy, who is tied with the injured Thomas Vanek (broken jaw) for a team-leading 52 points, and third-leading scorer Jason Pominville (44 points).
Roy has 12 goals and 10 assists in 31 career matchups versus Toronto, while Pominville's 10 goals and 24 points in 25 games are his most against any opponent.