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Sabres at Leafs: Five Things to Know

TORONTO – The Buffalo Sabres have 58 points while the once-woeful Toronto Maple Leafs have 97 and are rolling toward the playoffs for the second straight year. The teams meet tonight at 7 in Air Canada Centre, with the game televised on MSG.

It's game 76 for the Sabres. Starting tonight, only seven more left over the final two weeks to mercifully end another lost season. But things got quite a bit interesting just as the morning skate ended with the news Casey Mittelstadt has agreed to terms on his entry-level deal.

Mittelstadt could be in the Sabres' lineup as soon as Thursday night's game against Detroit in KeyBank Center. But first things first. Sabres vs. Leafs.

The Sabres are on a four-game losing streak and have been outscored in those games, 16-2, despite outshooting their opponents, 144-108, in them.

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

1. Long time, no see in the big city

With the wild vagaries of the NHL schedule, this is the first time the Sabres have been in the ACC in more than 13 months. The last game they played here was a 3-1 Buffalo win on Feb. 11, 2017. The Sabres didn't even play here in preseason, as their annual September affair in Toronto was played in Ricoh Coliseum.

2. The Leafs have a date with history

Toronto has won 13 in a row at home and a win tonight would give the Leafs franchise records for home wins in a season (27) and overall wins in a season (46).

The teams split their two meetings in Buffalo earlier this month and the Sabres are 5-5 against Toronto in the last 10 matchups. The home team has won in 25 of the last 32 meetings and the Sabres are trying for consecutive wins here for the first time since taking eight in a row from Feb. 21, 2008-Dec.  21, 2009.

"The Buffalo Sabres will be all we can handle tonight," Leafs coach Mike Babcock said today. "There's no team they'd rather beat than us."

With Toronto seeking club records, this is the worst time for Sabres to face Leafs

3. Eichel vs. Matthews

It's the first matchup of the season for good friends Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews, both of whom missed the two meetings in Buffalo with injuries.

Eichel in 7 games vs. the Leafs: Four goals, five assists, nine points. Matthews in 5 games vs. the Sabres: Three goals, no assists, three points.

Mike Harrington: Eichel and Matthews make their point

4. Lineup news

The goaltending matchup is expected to be Buffalo's Linus Ullmark (1-2, 2.00/.935) against Toronto's Frederik Andersen (35-19-5, 2.80/.918). The Sabres flipped Kyle Okposo and Sam Reinhart this morning and also changed defense pairs, putting Brendan Guhle with Rasmus Ristolainen.

"I'm excited for this game. It should be a good challenge," Guhle said today. "They have players with good speed and we have to be ready for that. I have to keep playing the same way. [Ristolainen] will get his chances with the puck, I'll get mine. We play the system the team wants to play and try to defend them."

Justin Falk and Nathan Beaulieu will play tonight. Josh Gorges and Victor Antipin will be healthy scratches.

5. By the numbers

The Leafs are fourth in the NHL on the power play (23.3 percent) and eighth on the penalty kill (82.5 percent). The Sabres are just 25th on the PP (17.1) and 23rd on the PK (78.1). ...With two more going in Friday against Montreal, the Sabres have given up an astonishing NHL-high total of 19 empty-net goals this season. ... Good team records: The Leafs are 36-6-3 when scoring first, 28-4-1 when leading after one period and 29-2-2 when leading after two. They are 12-7 in overtime, including 7-2 in shootouts. ... Toronto is 23-11 in one-goal games while the Sabres are just 10-22.

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