Six things to know about the recent history of the Buffalo Sabres-Toronto Maple Leafs rivarly as the teams prepare for their first matchup of the season at 7 p.m. Thursday in KeyBank Center.
1. The Sabres have dominated the series in Buffalo. Seriously. While the Sabres have struggled at times to play well in front of their home crowd, the team has a seven-game winning streak against the Leafs in KeyBank Center. The Sabres are 17-1-1 against the Leafs in the last 19 games in Buffalo.
2. Both teams have plenty of top draft choices in the lineup. The bright side of a bad regular season is a high draft position and both Toronto and Buffalo have used that their advantages the last few years. Among the first-round draft picks on the Maple Leafs roster are Auston Matthews (first overall, 2016), Mitch Marner (fourth overall, 2015), William Nylander (eighth overall, 2014), Morgan Rielly (fifth overall, 2012) and Nazem Kadri (seventh overall, 2009). While Jack Eichel (second overall, 2015) is injured, the Sabres still boast second-overall pick Sam Reinhart (2014) and first-rounders Rasmus Ristolainen (eighth overall, 2013), Zemgus Girgensons (14th overall, 2012) and Tyler Ennis (26th overall, 2008).
3. Tyler Ennis has big points against the Leafs. Ennis has 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in 17 games against Toronto dating back to the 2011-12 season. Johan Larsson, who scored the late game-winning goal for the Sabres in their 2-1 win in Minnesota Tuesday, has six points (three goals, three assists) in six career games against the Leafs. Meanwhile Matt Moulson is looking to avoid going pointless in three straight games against Toronto for the first time in his career. Moulson has 25 points (16 goals, nine assists) in 28 games against the Leafs.
4. Settle in for free hockey. In the last 20 meetings between the Sabres and Leafs nine have been decided in overtime or in a shootout. It’s been more prevalent in recent history as three of the last six meetings have gone to a shootout with Buffalo winning the last two. The Sabres have a 5-4 edge in those OT/shootout games.
5. For what it's worth, it has been a while since they met in the playoffs. The last time the two met in the playoffs was the Sabres famed 1998-99 run to the Stanley Cup Finals. Buffalo defeated Toronto in the best-of-seven series (4-1) in the Eastern Conference Finals.
6. The last meeting was a win for the Sabres. The last regular season meeting between the teams was a 4-1 win March 31 in KeyBank Center. Cal O'Reilly scored twice, including a power play goal, while Johan Larsson also added two goals, including an empty-netter to secure the win. Chad Johnson made 25 saves.