Maple Leafs, Sabres go after needed victory in Buffalo

11:01 AM, Jan 29, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - A pair of teams in desperate need of a win will meet Tuesday evening in western New York, as the Buffalo Sabres host the Toronto Maple Leafs at First Niagara Center.

The Sabres began the season with consecutive victories, but have lost three straight and are coming off Sunday's setback against the previously winless Washington Capitals.

Toronto, meanwhile, has lost its last two contests by a combined 12-6 margin, dropping the Leafs' record to 2-3-0 on the season.

The Sabres were dealt a 3-2 loss by the Capitals in D.C., as Alex Ovechkin's first goal of the season proved to be the game-winner for Washington.

Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno each lit the lamp for the Sabres, while Ryan Miller gave up all three goals on 30 shots in the loss.

"We made a few adjustments tonight to our game, and compliment that with play- making and goal-scoring that we saw early on and maybe we'd have a few more (goals)," Miller said. "I'm not going to say we had a great game, but I saw some things that we did a lot better."

Buffalo sniper Thomas Vanek missed Sunday's game with a muscle strain, but he is expected to be back in the lineup on Tuesday. Vanek is leading the Sabres with nine points (3 goals, 6 assists) in four games.

In other news, the Sabres have to make a decision soon on rookie forward Mikhail Grigorenko's immediate future. Grigorenko, the 12th overall pick of the 2012 draft, has played five games for Buffalo and if the 18-year-old skates in one more NHL contest the first year of his entry-level contract will begin, even if he is returned to his junior team, the Quebec Remparts.

Grigorenko has yet to score a point in five games with Buffalo this season.

Toronto yielded seven goals in a 7-4 loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday and the Leafs didn't fare much better Saturday against the NHL's other New York team. Marian Gaborik had two goals and two assists, and tallied the go-ahead score in the third period, to lead the Rangers in a 5-2 win over the Maple Leafs.

James van Riemsdyk and Mikhail Grabovski each had a goal for the Maple Leafs, who have lost three of their last four. James Reimer gave up four goals on 41 shots.

"[Reimer] played his heart out there," said van Riemsdyk. "A couple of those goals, [there was] not much he could have done."

Phil Kessel is still without a goal on the season and he went pointless for a fourth straight game on Saturday. Kessel, who has two assists on the year, has recorded 30 or more goals in each of his last four season and had a career- best 37 tallies in 2011-12.

Tuesday's game is the second meeting this season between the Sabres and Leafs. Buffalo posted a 2-1 win in Toronto on Jan. 21, giving the Sabres victories in two straight, three of four and six of the last 10 meetings in this Northeast Division series.

Toronto has lost three in a row and 10 of its last 11 games in Buffalo.

The Sports Network

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