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Leafs at Sabres: Five Things to Know

Sabres vs. Leafs in KeyBank Center. And it should be just about over by the time St. Bonaventure tips off in Dallas and certainly by the time UB tips off in Boise.

Call it the pregame show to tonight's historic double dip of Big 4 March Madness. It starts at 7 p.m. on MSG and the Sabres will be back in a game for the first time since Saturday's shootout loss to Vegas. The Leafs have won two straight, extending their franchise record to 11 straight home wins with Wednesday's 6-5 shootout win over Dallas.

Here are Five Things to Know about tonight's game:

1. Home cookin'

The Sabres are 19-3-1 in their last 23 home games against the Leafs and that, of course, includes a lot of bad teams still having success when the Blue and White – and their cadre of fans – crosses the border.  The home team, in fact, has won 25 of the last 31 games in the series, including Buffalo's 5-3 win here on March 5. The Sabres are 70-27-8 at home all-time against the Leafs.

Want some perspective on the Leafs' 11-game home winning streak? The Sabres have just 10 home wins all season (10-19-5).

2. They play three more times 

Rasmus Ristolainen vs. Nazem Kadri will be a subplot to watch tonight after their fight was followed by their hilarious gone-viral penalty box exchange during the Buffalo win 10 days ago.

"That's him. He definitely does so much in the game and brings that intensity that I think all the guys in here we feed off it," Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly said today. "He's hard to play against. He gets in their heads, and that's something that's huge. It gives us an advantage."

Sabres' Ristolainen on Kadri argument gif: 'It was funny'

3. In the net

Robin Lehner (14-24-9, 2.91/.911) gets the call for the Sabres against Leafs backup Curtis McElhinney (8-4-1, 2.27/.929). Linus Ullmark was not at the morning skate for the Sabres. His wife is expecting their first child.

Toronto starter Frederik Andersen left Wednesday's game against Dallas in the second period with an upper-body injury and the Leafs have recalled Garret Sparks from the AHL's Toronto Marlies on an emergency basis to serve as the backup.

Toronto coach Mike Babcock didn't have much to say about Andersen today but it doesn't sound like a serious issue. "I don't think there's much going on there to be honest with you," Babcock said. "He wasn't playing today anyway so we didn't bring him."

4. Who's skating/who's missing

Jack Eichel took the morning skate for the Sabres but will miss his 15th straight game with a high ankle sprain. Kyle Okposo (concussion), Seth Griffith (upper body) will be out for Buffalo while Evan Rodrigues (upper body) returns to the lineup after missing five games.

Leafs standout Auston Matthews was seen in the building this morning working out but will miss his eighth-straight game with a shoulder injury. Defenseman Nikita Zaitsev remains out with the flu.

5. Numbers games

The Sabres are 7-1-1 in their last nine games against the Atlantic Division and 10-7-3 against division foes this season. ... Sam Reinhart has 25 points in his last 25 games overall (10-15). O'Reilly has 21 points in his last 18 home games (8-13). ... The Sabres are 5-3-1 in their seventh 10-game segment of the season, which ends tonight with game 70. Their previous 10-game marks are 3-5-2, 2-6-2, 2-6-2, 3-4-3, 4-6-0 and 3-6-1. ... The Leafs are 10-2-1 in the first game of a back-t0-back and 6-4-2 in the second game. ... James van Riemsdyk's hat trick against Dallas gave him 29 goals on the season, one more than Matthews for the team lead. Kadri is at 27.

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