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game preview

Maple Leafs at Sabres preview

Keefe trying to win fourth straight game for Toronto; Buffalo has lost 10 of 12 in November

by Heather Engel / Independent Correspondent

MAPLE LEAFS (12--10--4) at SABRES (11--10--4)

4 p.m. ET; MSG-B, TSN4, NHL.TV


The Game

Sheldon Keefe will try to win his fourth straight game since taking over as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs when they play the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Friday.

Keefe, who replaced Mike Babcock on Nov. 20, became the first coach in Maple Leafs history to win each of his first three NHL games with a 6-0 victory against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday.

The Sabres, who are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, are 2-8-2 in November and have scored two goals or fewer in five of their past six (1-4-1).

This is the first of a home-and-home series, with the two teams playing at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday.


Players to watch

Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews has 14 points (nine goals, five assists) in 11 games against Buffalo.

Sabres forward Victor Olofsson has five points (two goals, three assists) in a five-game point streak.


They said it

"At the end of the day, we still have to go out there and perform, work, and do the job. It just doesn't change because of a coaching change. … We still have to go out there and work. We've brought maybe a little bit more emotion and determination in our game in the last three games, and it's helped." -- Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin

"We're really excited about it. It's been highlighted on the calendar for a while, this back-to-back. You can feel the energy in the group. We're going to make the picture small here and do our best to play some strong hockey. Of course, the rivalry will bring emotion into the building. We know it'll be a mix of people from Canada and Buffalo supporting both sides, which will create a bit of an atmosphere like I'm used to often in Europe, when there's lots of road fans. It'll certainly give a spark to the game. -- Sabres coach Ralph Krueger


Maple Leafs projected lineup

Andreas Johnsson -- Auston Matthews -- William Nylander

Ilya Mikheyev -- John Tavares -- Zach Hyman

Nic Petan -- Jason Spezza -- Kasperi Kapanen

Pierre Engvall -- Frederik Gauthier -- Nicholas Shore

Morgan Rielly -- Cody Ceci

Jake Muzzin -- Justin Holl

Travis Dermott -- Tyson Barrie 

Michael Hutchinson

Frederik Andersen

Scratched: Martin Marincin, Dmytro Timashov

Injured: Mitchell Marner (ankle), Trevor Moore (shoulder)

Suspended: Alexander Kerfoot


Sabres projected lineup

Victor Olofsson -- Jack Eichel -- Sam Reinhart

Marcus Johansson -- Casey Mittelstadt -- Jimmy Vesey

Jeff Skinner -- Johan Larsson -- Conor Sheary

Zemgus Girgensons -- Jean-Sebastien Dea -- Rasmus Asplund

Brandon Montour -- Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe -- Zach Bogosian

Henri Jokiharju -- Colin Miller

Linus Ullmark

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Curtis Lazar, Marco Scandella

Injured: Rasmus Dahlin (concussion), Evan Rodrigues (lower body), Kyle Okposo (concussion), Tage Thompson (upper body), Vladimir Sobotka (lower body)


Status report

Neither team held a morning skate. … Hutchinson will start in goal for Toronto.


Stat pack

Eichel has 12 points (six goals, six assists) in a seven-game point streak. … Barrie has scored in three straight games and has seven points (three goals, four assists) in a five-game point streak. … Toronto has outscored its opponents 14-4 in the past three games. … Olofsson has a point in nine of his past 10 games (three goals, six assists).

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