GAME DAY: Sabres at Maple Leafs

BUFFALO SABRES at TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

7 p.m., Air Canada Centre, TSN, TSN Radio 1050

BIG MATCHUP

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

LW-C-RW

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

Defence pairs

Morgan Rielly-Ron Hainsey

Jake Gardiner-Nikita Zaitsev

TBD-Roman Polak/Connor Carrick

Goaltenders

Curtis McElhinney

Frederik Andersen

SABRES LINES

LW-C-RW

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

Defence pairs

Marco Scandella-Rasmus Ristolainen

Brendan Guhle-Casey Nelson

Justin Falk-Josh Beaulieu/Josh Gorges

Goaltenders

Chad Johnson

Adam Wilcox

INJURIES

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).

SPECIAL TEAMS

Power play

Sabres: 18.3% (22nd)

Maple Leafs: 23.8% (3rd)

Penalty kill

Sabres: 78.2% (23rd)

Maple Leafs: 81.8% (11th)

Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies