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Sharpen Up: February 12, 2017

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

Buffalo got the start they needed - a three-goal first period - and hung on the rest of the way last night in a 3-1 win at Toronto. They'll look to carry those good vibes into their game tonight against the Vancouver Canucks.

Faceoff is at 7:30 p.m. tonight and if you can't make it to KeyBank Center, we'll be live on the air with the TOPS Game Night pregame show starting at 7. 

Here's what you need to know.


About last night

Video: Kane, Lehner power Sabres past Maple Leafs, 3-1

On the two-year anniversary of his trade to Buffalo, Evander Kane made a sizable impact. He scored twice to up his season goal total to 18. 

He now leads the team in goals and has scored each of his 18 goals this season in his last 32 games, including a team-high 17 even-strength goals. In the period since scoring his first goal of the season on Dec. 3 against Boston, he is tied for fourth among all NHL skaters in goals (18), leads the league lead in even-strength goals (17) and ranks third in shots on goal (124).

Kane has 11 points (6+5) in his last 10 games. This all in spite of missing 11 games early in the year due to some ribs he cracked in the season opener.

Maybe he's got something good going on a line with Jack Eichel (who had three assists) and Sam Reinhart, who finished with a goal and an assist.
Buffalo got off to a great start and then closed it out with some gritty play on defense, including this great block by Jake McCabe in the dying seconds:

Video: BUF@TOR: McCabe dives to block van Riemsdyk's shot

Robin Lehner was strong in net, finishing with a season-high 43 saves. 

For more, check out our game recap.


And here's more from inside the locker room:

Video: KANE: Postgame Interview

Video: Sam Reinhart on the postgame show

Video: BYLSMA: Postgame Interview

Video: LEHNER: Postgame Interview 

 Video: EICHEL: Postgame Interview


Powered up

The Sabres also got production out of their power play once again on Sam Reinhart's goal to make it 2-0.

The Sabres have gone 4-for-6 on the power play in their last three games and finished last night's game ranked first in the league with a 23.8-percent success rate on the power play.

Buffalo has not finished a season ranked in the top five in power play percentage since the 2005-06 season (third, 21.2 percent).

The team's current power play percentage would rank as the fourth-best conversion rate in franchise history and the best since the team's 24.4% mark in 1979-80. It would be the 22nd-best season by any team since the league began publishing the stat in 1987-88.

Scoreboard watching

Potential rekindled rivalry aside, the Sabres went into the game against Toronto focused on picking up points and making up ground in the standings. Boston, Ottawa, Florida and Tampa - all teams Buffalo will need to jump to get into a playoff spot - won their games yesterday so Buffalo needed to make sure they didn't fall any further behind.

"We're pissed off were still five points behind," Reinhart said after the game. "We're going into this game seven points behind, it's either nine or five so that's all the motivation we needed. We're still right there, we've still got to improve and get better and tighten that gap but it starts tonight and we have another chance at it tomorrow."  

With 56 points through 55 games, the Sabres are five points behind the Leafs for the second Wild Card spot (with one more game played), and six points back of the Bruins for the third seed in the Atlantic (with two games in hand). 

Let's get to tonight's action, shall we?

Vancouver lost 4-3 in Boston last night in heartbreaking fashion. Canucks forward Markus Granlund tied the game with 5:37 remaining, but David Pastrnak potted the winner with 2:00 to play and give the Bruins the two points. The Canucks are 1-2-0 so far on their six-game road trip. 

Ryan Miller made 26 saves for Vancouver, so Jacob Markstrom is expected to start in net tonight. 

The home team has won 12 of the last 14 games between Buffalo and Vancouver, including each of the last six. The Canucks have only won once in their six visits Buffalo since 2003, posting a 3-0 win on Oct. 17, 2013.

That stretch includes the last time these two clubs played: Vancouver defeated Buffalo 2-1 in Vancouver back on Oct. 20.


On tap today

The Sabres will not skate this morning, but will opt for a team meeting instead. We'll have full coverage for you throughout the day as we get you ready for puck drop.

And during the broadcast, don't miss the latest episode of Sabres Showdown. Sam Reinhart and Jake McCabe square off to see who will face Ryan O'Reilly in Tuesday's Finals. 

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