Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Buffalo Sabres – Game #74 Preview & Projected Lines

Photo: NHLI via Getty Images

Toronto Maple Leafs (35-23-15, t-13th in NHL) vs. Buffalo Sabres (30-32-12, 24th in NHL)

Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. EST
Arena: KeyBank Center
Watch: CBC

Game Day Notes

Josh Leivo picked up an injury in the Leafs‘ 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday and will not be available tonight. Ben Smith, a healthy scratch since February 25th, will skate on the fourth line next to Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.

Tonight will be Smith’s 40th NHL game of the season, meaning he would be eligible as a 40-70 player for expansion draft purposes if he was signed through the 2017-18 season.

– The Maple Leafs‘ 2-1 win — both goals scored by Mitch Marner — in Buffalo back in November was their first road win against the Sabres since January of 2013. The Leafs are 2-6-4 in their visits to Buffalo since the 2011-12 season.

William Nylander enters the game riding a 10-game points streak, the longest by a rookie in franchise history. Since breaking the league in February of 2016, Nylander is 27th in the NHL in points.

Frederik Andersen enters the game having won six of his last eight (6-1-1) with a .940 save percentage. At the other end, Robin Lehner has lost six of his last eight but has still managed a .923 save percentage over those games.

– The Leafs lead the season series 2-1-0 but lost the last meeting against Buffalo 3-1 at the Air Canada Centre on Feb. 11, with Jack Eichel assisting on all three goals. Former USNDTP teammate Auston Matthews scored in the Leafs‘ 4-3 win over Buffalo in the meeting prior on Jan. 17.

– The Sabres and Leafs power plays are clicking at 26.6% and 25% respectively since the start of February (third and fourth in the NHL over that time). The Leafs have one of the worst PP/PK time differentials in the league at -33:21 (26th in the NHL) but have stayed out of the box better in the month of March with just 27th times shorthanded in 11 games (sixth fewest in the NHL).

– The Sabres will be without their top defenceman in Rasmus Ristolainen due to suspension but expect to have Kyle Okposo as well as defencemen Dmitry Kulikov and Justin Falk back from injury.

– On the out-of-town scoreboard, the Leafs will be looking for the Islanders and Bruins to avoid a three-point game. The Leafs enter with 88% playoff odds after the Islanders and Lightning both won on Friday night.

The Leafs are currently three points ahead of both Boston and New York, with a game in hand on Boston.

Matchup Stats

Statistics courtesy of

Record %0.5820.486
Home Winning %0.6250.543
Away Winning %0.5280.405
Shootout Winning %0.1110.25
Goal Differential Per Game0.25-0.36
Shot Differential Per Game-0.6-4.18
Hits Per Game24.223.4
PIM Per Game9.89
Opponent PIM Per Game9.88.9
Goals Per Game3.072.45
Even Strength Goals Per Game2.291.72
Power Play Goals Per Game0.710.7
Shots Per Game32.230.2
Shots Per Goal10.512.3
Team Shooting %0.0950.081
Power Play %0.2410.239
Goals Against Per Game2.822.81
ES Goals Against Per Game2.232.09
PP Goals Against Per Game0.520.68
Shots Against Per Game32.8234.34
Shots Against Per Goal11.6312.22
Opp. Team Shooting %0.0860.082
Penalty Kill %0.8330.769
Save %0.9140.918
Goals Against Average2.782.77
Opponent Save %0.9050.919
Opponent Goals Against Average3.022.41
Opponent Shutouts23

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines


Leo Komarov – Nazem Kadri – Connor Brown
Zach Hyman – Auston Matthews – William Nylander
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Mitchell Marner
Matt Martin – Brian Boyle – Ben Smith


Morgan Rielly – Connor Carrick
Jake Gardiner – Nikita Zaitsev
Matt Hunwick – Alexey Marchenko


Starter: Frederik Andersen (30-15-14, 2.64, 0.919)
Backup: Curtis McElhinney

Suspended: Roman Polak (second of two games)
Injured: Eric Fehr, Nikita Soshnikov, Josh Leivo
Scratched: Martin Marincin

Buffalo Sabres Projected Lines


Tyler Ennis – Ryan O’Reilly – Kyle Okposo
Marcus Foligno – Jack Eichel – Sam Reinhart
Evander Kane – Evan Rodrigues – Brian Gionta
William Carrier – Zemgus Girgensons – Matt Moulson


Jake McCabe – Dmitry Kulikov
Brady Austin – Zach Bogosian
Josh Gorges – Justin Falk


Starter: Robin Lehner (20-23-8, 2.65, 0.921)
Backup: Anders Nilsson

Scratched: Hudson Fasching, Nicolas Deslauriers
Injured: Cody Franson (undisclosed), Johan Larsson (wrist)
Suspended: Rasmus Ristolainen

Who’s Hot

  • William Nylander: 12 points (four goals, eight assists) during 10-game points streak
  • Auston Matthews: five points (two goals, three assists) during four-game points streak
  • Tyler Bozak: 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in last 11 games
  • Nazem Kadri: five points (two goals, three assists) in last five games
  • Jack Eichel: 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) in last 13 games
  • Kyle Okposo: four points (one goal, three assists) in two games before March 2 injury

Morning Skate: Babcock, Bozak, Kadri, Nylander, Smith