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Game 15: Maple Leafs at Sabres
Sabres look to go streaking as Leafs blow into town

BUFFALO (LGS) — When the Buffalo Sabres play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 7:30 p.m. faceoff Friday night, they'll be looking to build off of past success.

The Sabres (6-7-1) won the only meeting between the geographic rivals 5-4 in overtime Oct. 15.

Paul Gaustad was credited with the winner as the Sabres came back from a 2-0 deficit with a flurry of third period goals.

Buffalo will also look to build off of much more recent success, coming off of a thrilling 2-1 overtime victory against the Boston Bruins Wednesday night. The win erased a three game losing skid, and was only their third in the last nine games.

Clarke MacArthur, an injury call-up from Rochester scored the winning goal in the extra frame. Ales Kotalik scored the other goal.

The Sabres recent woes can partially be attributed to a recent lack of offensive firepower. The team, listed as the 7th best offense in the league heading into Thursday games has scored only 4 goals in their last three games.

Tim Connolly, tied for the team lead in scoring with 12 points, is out with a strained oblique muscle. MacArthur was called up to take his spot in the lineup.

Buffalo is also missing Adam Mair (ankle), Jaroslav Spacek (shoulder), Nolan Pratt (groin) and Dmitri Kalinin (knee).

"We are hopeful to get an update tomorrow and get somebody back," coach Lindy Ruff said after practice Thursday. "But right now we've got Nolan [Pratt] that is still finding his way back from a groin injury, and obviously, Jaro [Spacek] is day-to-day with a shoulder [injury]."

Spacek's injury has been particularly troublesome for the offensively depleted team. Injured in the third period of the previous Leafs-Sabres game, the team went from winning three straight to losing the same.

Trying to return to the lineup, Spacek played Nov. 1, an overtime loss at Boston. But he re-injured his shoulder late in the third period and has been sidelined ever since.

Toronto (6-7-3) is coming off of a 5-1 loss in Ottawa Tuesday night.

Vesa Toskala started the game, but after giving up four goals on 13 shots was pulled in favor of Andrew Raycroft.

"They really took the game away from us right away," said Toronto center Kyle Wellwood. "And after that it was just a matter of them coasting right through the rest of the hockey game."

Wellwood and fellow Maple Leaf Mark Bell both made their season debuts in the loss. Bell returned from a 15-game suspension while Wellwood had offseason sports hernia surgery.

Nik Antropov scored Toronto's only goal on the power play.

Buffalo immediately travels to Boston following the game for a 7 p.m. face-off with the Bruins Saturday night.

It is the third meeting between the teams in 10 days, with both teams winning in overtime on their home ice.

Sad Fact of the Game
Buffalo began the season well in one statistical category. In their first three games, the Sabres scored the first goal. Since then, however, the Sabres have surrendered the opening tally in every single contest. Will they change that Friday?

By Timothy Chipp, LGS Columnist
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