Sabres, Leafs switch roles

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

Members of the Buffalo Sabres don't mind that the shoe now is on the other foot.

In recent years, when the Sabres and Maple Leafs have met late in the regular season, the Leafs have been in the driver's seat. Not tonight, with Toronto scrambling for a playoff berth and the Sabres securely holding onto one.

Starting tonight at HSBC Arena, the Leafs and Sabres will hook up five times before the season ends.

"We know we're able to put them way behind us by winning these games and that it's going to be hard for them to come back," Buffalo forward J.P. Dumont told reporters. "We remember when we were in that position. When they lost against Washington (on Tuesday) that was probably two points they thought they were going to have."

Though the Leafs have not played with much urgency despite their precarious spot in the standings, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff thinks they will do so tonight.

"They're going to be hungry, knowing that with Atlanta winning (Wednesday) night, things have really tightened up," Ruff said. "(The Leafs) have had what you would call a roller-coaster ride."

NO GO FOR NOLAN

Owen Nolan was quoted yesterday as saying he has abandoned a plan to return to the NHL this season.

"My knee is still not at the stage where I could be cleared to play," Nolan said. "I look forward to getting my rehab finalized over the next few months and signing with a team this summer."

Nolan had knee surgery and there have been several grievances with the Leafs that will be heard at a later date.

BRIEFLY

Pat Lafontaine's No. 16 will become the fifth Sabres number retired when the forward is honoured in a pre-game ceremony tonight. Other Sabres with retired numbers are Tim Horton (No. 2), Rick Martin (No. 7), Gilbert Perreault (No. 11) and Rene Robert (No. 14) ... The Leafs will honour Tie Domi prior to their home game tomorrow against the Ottawa Senators. Domi will play in his 1,000th NHL game tonight.


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