Sabres, Leafs try to get on track

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 2:49 PM ET

While the Toronto Maple Leafs are trying to recapture their early-season form, the Buffalo Sabres have yet to find their stride this year.

Both clubs will be looking to halt lengthy losing streaks without key players in this evening's matchup at Air Canada Centre.

A season-opening four-game winning streak had the Maple Leafs as one of the top surprises at the onset, but the club has dropped seven of eight since. Toronto has been shut out twice on its current four-game slide and wasted its highest goal output since Oct. 15 on Wednesday in a 5-4 loss to Washington.

Down 3-1, Tomas Kaberle, Kris Versteeg and Tyler Bozak scored three unanswered goals in a 3:03 span in the third frame, but the Caps got the game-tying goal with 5:38 left in regulation before scoring twice in the shootout on Jonas Gustavsson. Both Toronto skaters failed in the deciding segment.

Gustavsson ended with 26 saves in the loss.

"We gave up four goals. We've been a lot stingier than that this year and we've still got to find a way to play better," said Leafs head coach Ron Wilson.

Toronto will try to avoid its first five-game slide since dropping six in a row from Jan 19-30 and will play its second straight game without captain Dion Phaneuf, who is expected to miss anywhere from a month to six weeks due to a lacerated leg suffered on Tuesday.

The Maple Leafs could have used the defenseman tonight seeing as they had lost 10 straight to the Sabres before posting a 4-2 home win in the final meeting between the club's last season.

Toronto also halted an eight-game series losing streak at ACC and hasn't posted two straight wins over Buffalo since the 2007-08 season.

While the Leafs are missing a key piece of their blue line, reigning Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller is expected to sit out his fourth straight for Buffalo because of a lower-body injury.

Patrick Lalime got the start for the Sabres last night, but allowed three goals on 32 shots as the club lost a fifth straight game for a second time this season.

"To be honest, those are the kind of games that we play and I like our chance winning on most of the nights. We had a lot of chances and we just got to put it away," said Lalime, who hasn't faced Toronto since Oct. 20, 2007 while with Chicago.

Mike Grier and Jordan Leopold tallied for the Sabres, who fell to 0-6-1 at home this season and will try to avoid losing six straight games for the first time since Feb. 1-11.

Buffalo begins a three-game road trip, but has dropped its last three tests as the guest.

Sabres forward Drew Stafford missed a large portion of last night's game with an upper-body injury and his status for tonight is unknown.


Videos

Photos