TORONTO - Nazem Kadri tweeted Tuesday morning that his team’s matchup against the Buffalo Sabres is a “four-point game, let’s keep it going.”
It was a point he also drove home to reporters after an energetic skate on the Air Canada Centre ice as the Leafs prepared for the Tuesday night game.
“It’s huge, obviously, it’s a four-point game,” Kadri said of the contest. “Buffalo’s a good team and I wouldn’t put it past them to make a late stand to push into the playoffs.
"Like I said, every single point matters, especially when it’s against teams that are trying to catch up.”
The Maple Leafs currently sit seventh in the Eastern Conference standings with 47 points, that’s six more than their QEW rival, which finds itself in 11th place.
A victory by Toronto in the first game of back-to-back meetings would not only give the Leafs their longest winning streak of the season, at four games, it would also put a little more distance between themselves and their Northeast Division counterpart.
“We need to keep getting points, especially against the teams that we play a lot,” said goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, who will make his fourth consecutive start for the Leafs.
To help accomplish their goal, the Leafs will ice the same team they did for Saturday night’s dramatic 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings, with rookie Jake Gardiner again being the odd man out on the blue line.
After having had a rough patch at the ACC, the Leafs have reeled off four straight victories at home, a streak that started Dec. 22 against the Sabres. But Toronto knows that a desperate Buffalo team, which has only won twice in its past 10 games, will not be a pushover.
“They’re going to be fighting for a (playoff) spot all the way to the end, they’re not going to give up,” said former Sabre Clarke MacArthur. “They’re a fast team, they always have a D-man jumping up into the play. They create offence that way. I think we just have to be disciplined and wait for our chances.”
Look for Ryan Miller to be in net for the Sabres, and injured defenceman Andrej Sekera, who was out for Buffalo’s morning skate, could be back in the lineup.
After tonight’s game, Toronto has a couple of days off before heading down to Buffalo for a Friday night contest. Then it’s back to the ACC for a five-game home stand.