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Eichel, Sabres look to extend point streaks in Toronto

Sabres captain has tallied points in 16 straight games

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

TORONTO - Jack Eichel has made a habit of racking up points against the Toronto Maple Leafs throughout his career. Another tonight would put him on the doorstep of a franchise record. 

Eichel carries a 16-game point streak into tonight's matchup at Scotiabank Arena, two shy of Gilbert Perreault's Sabres record. With a goal or an assist tonight, Eichel would tie Dave Andreychuk (who tallied points in 17 straight games twice) with the second-longest streak in franchise history. 

In 15 career games against the Maple Leafs, Eichel has tallied 20 points (12+8). His 1.33 points per game is his second-highest mark against any opponent; his .80 goals per game ranks first. 

"It's a testament to the guys in the room," Eichel said when asked this morning about his personal success. "It's a team effort. You don't have this type of success if the guys in there aren't doing a great job as well. 

"It's a long year. We've got a long season left, a lot of hockey to be played. I'm just trying to stay as consistent as possible."

Statistically, Eichel's recent play has placed his name alongside a collection of game's top players. His 23 goals rank second only to David Pastrnak; his 17 even-strength goals rank first. His 48 points are tied with Pastrnak for fifth behind Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Nathan MacKinnon, and Brad Marchand.

He's combined with linemates Victor Olofsson and Sam Reinhart to form a consistent two-way trio that only seems to be getting better. At 5-on-5, the line has outscored opponents 24-18. 

"It's really important, of course, the support he's getting from his linemates," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. "Olofsson and Reinhart both are able to read off Jack really well. That line works strongly in both directions and Jack's commitment to the game without the puck has been tremendous for us and his leadership on both sides of the puck. 

"He's just a world-class athlete and player and is able with any spaces to make something out of it. There are very few players in the league that are a threat one-on-one, and he's definitely on top of the pile. His conditioning, his fitness is very high and he's having a lot of fun, which I think is an important element in his success."

Linus Ullmark will start in net for the Sabres, who are looking to extend their team point streak to six games. Krueger said the team will dress 12 forwards and six defensemen, with the makeup of the lines and pairs to be revealed during warmups. 

 

Scouting the Leafs

Video: PREGAME: Krueger

It will be meeting No. 3 of the season between the cross-border rivals, with the two teams having split a home-and-home set late last month. The Sabres won a high-scoring affair in Buffalo, 6-4, then grinded out a road point in a 2-1 overtime loss in Toronto the following night. 

According to NaturalStatTrick.com, the Sabres out-chanced the Maple Leafs, 43-38, at 5-on-5 in those two meetings. High-danger shot attempts were in Buffalo's favor by a tally of 23-9. Special teams were the difference in the second game as William Nylander scored Toronto's only goal of regulation on the power play. 

The Sabres were playing amid a difficult stretch on both the power play and the penalty kill at that point, though the tide seems to have turned of late. They were 2-for-3 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill against the New York Islanders on Saturday.

"In those two games, they beat us in the special teams game," Krueger said of the previous meetings with Toronto. "They out-chanced us in both of those games. We out-chanced them 5-on-5. So, that's going to be very important that we maintain the confidence. I think it is about that.

"We had a lot of opportunity for a while and now we're scoring on the power play and the penalty kill has just a better mojo, there's just a better feel there. The guys are synced really well, they're putting pressure when it's necessary and they're finding spaces really well. We need to build on that tonight. We need to win the specialty team game again."

The Maple Leafs rank 11th on the power play at 20.7 percent, though that mark drops to 16.3 percent at home. Their penalty kill ranks 26th at 76.7 percent. 

Auston Matthews leads Toronto in both power-play goals (5) and points (10). 

 

Numbers to know 

20 - Olofsson has 20 points (8+12) in his last 19 games, including four multi-point performances in the team's last seven outings. He leads the rookie scoring race with 30 points, two ahead of Colorado defenseman Cale Makar. 

200 - Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen won his 200th career game against Edmonton on Saturday, becoming the fastest European goalie to reach the mark. He's expected to start in net tonight for Toronto. 

 

Tune in 

Tonight's game will be nationally televised on NBCSN, or you can listen to Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray on WGR 550. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. 
 

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