Battle of the Border Renews the Rivalry Tonight

The Leafs are back in Buffalo tonight. Both teams are coming off losses in their previous games.

The Leafs are back in Buffalo tonight. Both teams are coming off losses in their previous games.

Despite the losing, Leafs remain 4 points behind Boston

BY: Jeff Schneberk

@Game7overtime

In a battle of two very much struggling hockey teams, someone has to win tonight. Both the Leafs and Sabres are coming off rough losses this week and it sort of only makes sense that the two clubs who’ve been down on their luck lately, get to square off and take their frustrations out on each other, tonight.

Toronto is even in terms of their record over the last 10 games (4-4-2) while Buffalo has been sinking lately too, at 3-7-0.

After a wild game back in the pre-season that resulted in a suspension and goalies fighting, the two clubs split a home-and-home series two weekends ago, and it turned out to be nothing like the pre-season game.

Leafs Nation is still wondering what the hell happened after blowing a 4-1 lead Wednesday night at the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, ended up losing 6-5 in a shootout.

Prior to that was a 6-0 annihilation at the hands of Columbus, one of the most embarrassing losses in this Leafs ‘era’. Nobody had seen a loss that bad since the Ron Wilson coaching days.

Buffalo meanwhile hasn’t had much luck either, the last time they won a game it happened against these same Leafs. Sabres have lost five straight by new (old) head coach Ted Nolan.

“We stopped skating. We stopped forechecking. We stopped playing,” said Leafs coach Randy Carlyle, whose team is being outshot by an average of 10 per game (36.1-26.1). “There’s no explanation for us not getting any shots in the third period.

Pittsburgh's Chris Kunitz operates behind the Leaf goal Wednesday night. Pittsburgh controlled the play for the entire third period and the OT during their 6-5 come-from-behind (three times) win.

Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz operates behind the Leaf goal Wednesday night. Pittsburgh controlled the play for the entire third period and the OT during their 6-5 come-from-behind (three times) win.

“We’ve got an old enough group and a veteran core that should be able to grab a hold of it.”

See the Carlyle press conference here: http://t.co/osvwCzcnLf.

A 3-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday left Buffalo with two victories in 14 home games. Despite a 1-5-0 record and the continuing struggles at First Niagara Center, Nolan said he’s seeing progress from a team whose 11 points are last in the overall standings.

“The one thing we asked our team to do is compete, and we competed,” Nolan said. “When things are difficult, it’s easy to point fingers, but this group is really starting to pay attention. We’re making strides in the right direction.”

Matt Moulson ended an 11-game drought by scoring the Sabres’ lone goal.

Who’s hot: James van Riemsdyk had two goals and an assist against the Penguins. Nazem Kadri showed he still knows where the net is, wired a wrister past Marc Andre Fleury in Wednesday’s SO loss … Ryan Miller’s goaltending continues to give the Sabres a chance to win. Despite a 4-15-0 record, he has a save percentage of .918.

Injury report: Toronto is without forward Joffrey Lupul (groin) and center Dave Bolland (ankle). … Buffalo has been missing forward Cody McCormick (undisclosed) for a week, but Nolan said he could return either against Toronto or Saturday night against the New Jersey Devils.

Toronto is in Montreal on Saturday night.

@Game7overtime

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