BUFFALO SABRES at TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
7 p.m., Air Canada Centre, TSN, TSN Radio 1050
Rasmus Ristolainen vs. Auston Matthews
While Sabres defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen has had his run-ins with Maple Leafs centre Nazem Kadri, he was no match for Auston Matthews during 5-on-5 play last Monday. Matthews’ line had numerous scoring chances when Ristolainen was on the ice. The Sabres aren’t exactly deep on the back end, and if Matthews can dominate against Buffalo’s best, Sabres coach Phil Housley doesn’t have many options beyond Ristolainen.
FIVE KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Status of Dermott
The Maple Leafs were to learn more on Sunday about the status of defenceman Travis Dermott, who took a shot off the left leg against Winnipeg and did not return. Dermott has not been around long, playing in 36 games, but any absence would create a large hole. One of Andreas Borgman, Martin Marincin or Calle Rosen likely would be recalled.
2. Mac’s last stand
Barring injury to Frederik Andersen, this will be Curtis McElhinney’s last appearance in the regular season, as coach Mike Babcock said the plan is to start Andersen in the final two games. There’s no award for best backup, but McElhinney would be in the running, considering his .933 save percentage. He is 1-3-0 against the Sabres in his career.
3. Mittelstadt making a case
The Leafs will get their first look at centre Casey Mittelstadt, who will play in his third game with Buffalo after signing last week. Mittelstadt undoubtedly will be a large cog in the Sabres’ rebuild, and could be a thorn in the rivalry with the Leafs for years. With two assists already, wouldn’t it be fitting for Mittelstadt to score his first NHL goal in Toronto?
4. All hail Patrick
When the regular season started, Mike Babcock expected veteran Patrick Marleau to score 20 goals. Instead, Marleau has reached 26, and has an outside shot at giving the Leafs four 30-goal scorers for the first time since 1989-90. Two of Marleau’s past three goals have come on the power-play, giving the Sabres something to think about.
5. Attempting to win
The Leafs have won the Corsi battle in each of their three games against the Sabres, but none better than last Monday, when it was 74-41 for Toronto in 5-on-5 play. The 74 attempts tied the second-most for the Leafs in a game this season, though they will have to come with more concentration than they did in a 3-2 loss.
MAPLE LEAFS LINES
Zach Hyman-Auston Matthews-William Nylander
Patrick Marleau-Nazem Kadri-Mitch Marner
James van Riemsdyk-Tyler Bozak-Connor Brown
Leo Komarov-Tomas Plekanec-Kasperi Kapanen
Morgan Rielly-Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner-Nikita Zaitsev
TBD-Roman Polak/Connor Carrick
Zemgus Girgensons-Jack Eichel-Jason Pominville
Evan Rodrigues-Casey Mittelstadt-Kyle Okposo
Scott Wilson-Ryan O’Reilly-Sam Reinhart
Benoit Pouliot-Johan Larsson-Nick Baptiste
Marco Scandella-Rasmus Ristolainen
Brendan Guhle-Casey Nelson
Justin Falk-Josh Beaulieu/Josh Gorges
Sabres — D Zack Bogosian (hip), D Jake McCabe (shoulder), D Victor Antipin (concussion), F Jacob Josefson (lower body), G Linus Ullmark (concussion), G Robin Lehner (lower body).
Maple Leafs — D Travis Dermott (leg).
Sabres: 18.3% (22nd)
Maple Leafs: 23.8% (3rd)
Sabres: 78.2% (23rd)
Maple Leafs: 81.8% (11th)
Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies