BUFFALO (LGS) — After four games against teams outside of their division, the Buffalo Sabres finally get a taste of Northeast Divisional play when they play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs Monday night in a nationally televised (Versus HD) showdown inside HSBC Arena. Game time is at 7 p.m.
After starting the season with back-to-back losses against the New York Islanders, the Sabres (2-2-0) are looking to continue their recent dominance of opponents.
The team climbed into the win column Thursday with a solid 6-0 beat down of the Atlanta Thrashers. They then used an explosive second period Saturday to dispose of the Washington Capitals by a 7-3 score.
Defenseman Brian Campbell scored a combined 7 points in the two games and leads the team in points through the first four games. His 9 total points has him leading all NHL defensemen in scoring.
But it isn't just Campbell who is breaking through on the blue line. Jaroslav Spacek has found life on the power play, shooting the puck like a madman.
Of his four goals, three of them have been power play tallies, while the other came just after a penalty had expired.
"Right now they are making nice plays back there," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "(Spacek) is getting the shots through and it's finding some holes. Some of them are going through masses of people but we are getting the opportunities."
Center Derek Roy also scored two goals against the Capitals and is tied with fellow center Tim Connolly for the forward points lead.
For Toronto (2-3-1), the story has been a lack of consistency. After opening the season with a pair of losses to the Ottawa Senators, the team won two straight games, including Thursday when they annihilated the New York Islanders 8-1.
But they fell Saturday night to the Pittsburgh Penguins by a 6-4 score.
The offense for Toronto has not been the problem. The real threat to them is their defensive zone play. Trade acquisition Vesa Toskala was forced to make 46 saves Saturday, despite giving up 6 goals. He has a 1-3-0 record while posting a 4.48 GAA in this young season.
"I feel sorry for Vesa, he's kicking 50 shots aside," forward Alex Steen said. "We're taking too many penalties and they took advantage at the end."
Toronto captain Mats Sundin became the franchise's leading goal - and point - scorer Thursday night in their 8-1 victory. He broke ties with Darryl Sittler in both categories, recording his 390th Maple Leaf goal and his 917th point.
Last season, Buffalo won five of their 8 match-ups, including the game that saw Buffalo scream back from a 4-1 deficit to win 5-4 on March 23.
Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller has recorded a 5-1 record in his last six home games against Toronto while posting a 2.51 GAA.
Roy has also feasted on Toronto in the past. In the preseason this year, Roy scored three straight goals and added three assists as the Sabres won the tilt 7-2. In addition, Roy recorded five points last season in the eight games against their regional rival.
LGS FUN FACT OF THE GAME
♦ The Sabres hold a 81-49-22 all-time record against the Maple Leafs; and at home the Sabres are 49-21-7 against their northern invaders. Not much of a rivalry, eh?