Stringing points together: The Sabres enter tonight's game 3-0-2 in their last five. A win or overtime loss tonight would give them their second six-game run of the season, after they opened the Ralph Krueger era by going 5-0-1. The Sabres are 4-1-2 in December and 6-2-4 in their last 12 games.
In the standings: The Sabres are second in the Atlantic Division with 39 points, two points ahead of Florida and three ahead of both Toronto and Montreal. The Leafs and Buffalo are both playing their 35th game tonight. The Sabres got three of four points in the teams' home-and-home set that closed November, snapping a five-game skid against Toronto.
The Eichel Chronicles: Sabres captain Jack Eichel was named the NHL's Third Star of the Week Monday after scoring five goals in three games. Here's where he stands on the league's leaderboard heading into Tuesday's game:
Goals: 23, second to Boston's David Pastrnak (28)
Assists: 25, tied for ninth with former teammate Ryan O'Reilly of St. Louis
Points: 48, tied for fifth with Pastrnak
Current point streak: Career-long 16 games, the longest in the league this season. His 15 goals, 29 points and plus-19 rating during the streak all lead the NHL since it began Nov. 16. His 14 assists are two shy of the league lead during that stretch.
December points: 13, tops in the league (7-6-13).
— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) December 17, 2019
Record books: With a point tonight, Eichel can tie a pair of 17-game streaks from Hockey Hall of Famer Dave Andreychuk (1991-92 and 1992-93 seasons) for second in franchise history. The record of 18 was set by Gilbert Perreault early in the 1971-72 campaign.
The Captain vs. the archrival: Eichel has raked the Leafs in his career, going 12-8-20 in 15 games. The 12 goals are his most against any opponent and 1.33 points per game is second only to his 1.64 against Ottawa.
The Leafs are impressed with Eichel: The Buffalo captain was the talk of the Toronto dressing room this morning:
Captain John Tavares: "He's seemed to take a real step in his play. He's always been ultra talented and with his skating ability and puck handling, he's such a dual threat type of player. He's really using his body now I find and really imposing himself on the game. He's playing with a lot of confidence and is one of the best players in the game."
Auston Matthews: "He's obviously been on fire. He's extremely confident to begin with but when you're feeling it like that, every time you touch the puck you feel dangerous and feel like the puck is going in."
#Goalofsson: Rookie Victor Olofsson has certainly reaped the benefits of being on Eichel's left wing, leading all first-year players in goals (14) and points (30). Olofsson has points in 16 of his last 19 games (8-12-20) and has had two-point outings four times in the last seven games.
In the nets: Linus Ullmark (10-6-3, 2.84/.915) will make his fifth straight start and 12th in the last 15 games. Ullmark is tied for the NHL victory lead in December with 4. He's 4-1-1, 2.49/.924 thus far in the month.
The Leafs are expected to go with starter Frederik Andersen (16-8-3, 2.49/.921). They have an NHL-low one point from backup goalies this season (0-6-1).
One look at the lineup: With Casey Mittelstadt gone to Rochester, the Sabres' forwards were arranged this way in practice Monday:
Although coach Ralph Krueger would only say the Sabres were going in a 12F/6D alignment tonight, Zach Bogosian and Colin Miller joined Carter Hutton on the ice this morning. That generally means they are the healthy scratches. That will be three straight for Bogosian, who reportedly asked for a trade following the first one last week against Nashville, and two in a row for Miller.
"It's really just a day-to-day decision. We have a lot of power in both of those different looks ," Krueger said today of going with 11 forwards vs. 12. "It's looking at the opposition, seeing what's coming at you, where we are in the amount of games we've played in a period of time. Sometimes the 7-11 seems to feel better and these are usually gut decisions. We just feel 6-12 is what we need here tonight."