Sabres look for bounce-back game vs. Maple Leafs

NHL Hockey

The Buffalo Sabres and the host Toronto Maple Leafs will enter Tuesday night’s game on a positive note.

The Maple Leafs completed a 3-1-0 road trip on Saturday with a 4-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.

The Sabres had a three-game winning streak halted on Saturday with a 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Islanders, but liked the way they competed.

Buffalo is 5-1-4 in its past 10 games and has earned eight of a possible 10 points in their past five games (3-0-2) played over eight days.

The Sabres and Maple Leafs split a back-to-back set last month with the teams each winning at home. Buffalo posted a 6-4 victory on Nov. 29 while the Maple Leafs skated to a 2-1 overtime win the following night.

The Sabres were encouraged even in defeat after their performance against the Islanders.

“I thought we competed our hearts out. I thought we played really well,” said Buffalo captain Jack Eichel, who extended career-high point streak to 16 games (15 goals, 14 assists) by scoring and setting up a goal.

“This is an encouraging game overall for us,” Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. “We stay on topic, we stay on gameplan and we’ve got points in our game every night if we can do that.”

Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin missed the two previous games against Toronto with a concussion. The 19-year-old missed eight games before returning to record an assist in both Thursday’s 4-3 win over Nashville and Saturday’s tilt versus the Islanders.

“Rasmus Dahlin was outstanding and he earned his 24 minutes,” Krueger said. “Just pleased to see how he’s come out of his injury, and he seems fresh and energized and definitely helps on the power play, too.”

Buffalo center Casey Mittelstadt, who played in both previous games against Toronto, was assigned to Rochester of the American Hockey League on Sunday night after being a healthy scratch in three of the past four games. The former first-round pick had four goals and five assists in 31 games this season.

The Maple Leafs, who are 7-4-0 under new coach Sheldon Keefe, had lost two in a row before going on their successful road trip.

“This (trip) should give us some confidence,” Toronto captain John Tavares said. “It should have been even better, but it is what it is. Now we have to follow it up, turn the page. Heading into the Christmas break, we want to make the most of the games we have.”

Maple Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie left the game against the Oilers after blocking a shot, but X-rays on his ankle were negative. Barrie was able to practice Monday.

“I’m still a bit sore, some swelling, but was able to practice (Monday) with very little issue. So should be good (Tuesday),” Barrie said on Monday.

The last time the teams met, the Maple Leafs were still without Mitch Marner, who was out for 11 games with a sprained ankle.

Marner has scored two goals and added five assists in five games since his return and has six and 19, respectively, in 23 contests this season.

Toronto goaltender Frederik Andersen is expected to start Tuesday for the eighth straight game. He earned his 200th career NHL victory Saturday.

Linus Ullmark has started four games in a row in goal for the Sabres.

–Field Level Media

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