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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, December 27th (All times Eastern)

Buffalo Sabres (10-24-3) at Toronto Maple Leafs (18-16-5), 7:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Buffalo Sabres headed into the Christmas break playing their best hockey of the season. It was pretty much the opposite for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Sabres will shoot for a fourth win in five games when they visit the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs in Friday's Atlantic Division battle at Air Canada Centre.

Although Buffalo is still last in the NHL with 23 points, the club has recorded four of its 10 wins this season over the last seven games. The Sabres' latest victory, Monday's 2-1 overtime win against visiting Phoenix, came with a little bit of luck, as Buffalo was the beneficiary of a bizarre play in the extra session.

Mark Pysyk fired a shot from near the right circle 3:47 into the extra session which was initially stopped by Coyotes goalie Mike Smith, but the puck bounced straight up into the air and was batted down by a Phoenix defender and landed in the back of Smith's pants.

Smith, unaware of the disc wedged in his pants, turned and slid backwards into the net carrying the puck across the goal line for the game-winner.

"I saw it come down and figured it landed. I didn't know where it went from there, but I saw he was in the net and figured it was in," said Pysyk.

Tyler Ennis scored the game-tying goal 14:01 into the final session for the Sabres. Ryan Miller made 36 saves in the win.

Although Buffalo has picked up the pace recently, the club still enters Friday on an eight-game road losing streak. The Sabres, who last won as the guest on Nov. 5 in San Jose, are just 3-12-1 on the road this season.

The Sabres have not fared well in Toronto recently either, losing two straight and seven of the last eight encounters at Air Canada Centre. Buffalo, however, has won three of the past four meetings overall.

Toronto lost seven out of nine heading into the Christmas break, but the club at least has managed to earn points in three straight outings. The Maple Leafs have gone to the shootout phase in each of their last three games, beating Phoenix on Dec. 19 before losing consecutive tilts against Detroit and the New York Rangers.

The Maple Leafs seemed on the verge of a regulation defeat Monday in New York City, but they came up with a controversial goal after Rangers forward Chris Kreider was sent off for shooting the puck over the glass with 3:34 remaining in the third period. New York goaltender Cam Talbot appeared to cover up David Clarkson's chance in-close on the man advantage, but the whistle never blew and Nazem Kadri alertly pushed the puck over the line to make it a 1-1 game with only 84 seconds to go in regulation.

However, Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello each scored for the Rangers during the shootout, while Joffrey Lupul scored Toronto's lone goal in the decisive segment. Kadri had a chance to extend the shootout for Toronto, but was denied by Talbot.

Toronto fell for the ninth time in its last 10 road games despite a terrific 42-save performance from Jonathan Bernier.

"Our goaltender stood on his head," Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle remarked. "That's all you can ask in a game like this one."

The Leafs are 12-8-1 as the home team this season compared to a 6-8-4 record on the road.

Buffalo hopes to have leading scorer Cody Hodgson back tonight after the centerman missed the last two games due to an upper-body injury. Hodgson has eight goals and 11 assists to pace the Sabres with 19 points.

12/27 10:48:25 ET

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Schedule

Friday, April 18Full Scoreboard
Montreal 4/18 7:00 PM ET
Tampa Bay CNBC, CBC, RDS, FSN-FL
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. Montreal leads series, 1-0.
Detroit 4/18 7:30 PM ET
Boston NBCSN, TSN, FSN-DET, NESN
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game One.
Dallas 4/18 10:00 PM ET
Anaheim NBCSN, TSN, FSN-SW
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. Anaheim leads series, 1-0.
Full Scoreboard

Standings

2013 - 2014 NHL Eastern Conference Standings
 
Atlantic Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
p-Boston 54 19 9 117 261 177 31-7-3 23-12-6 18-9-3
x-Tampa Bay 46 27 9 101 240 215 25-10-6 21-17-3 19-8-3
x-Montreal 46 28 8 100 215 204 23-13-5 23-15-3 18-8-4
x-Detroit 39 28 15 93 222 230 18-13-10 21-15-5 17-8-5
Ottawa 37 31 14 88 236 265 18-17-6 19-14-8 14-9-7
Toronto 38 36 8 84 231 256 24-16-1 14-20-7 14-13-3
Florida 29 45 8 66 196 268 16-20-5 13-25-3 13-16-1
Buffalo 21 51 10 52 157 248 13-21-7 8-30-3 7-18-5
 
Metropolitan Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Pittsburgh 51 24 7 109 249 207 28-9-4 23-15-3 20-8-2
x-NY Rangers 45 31 6 96 218 193 20-17-4 25-14-2 16-11-3
x-Philadelphia 42 30 10 94 236 235 24-14-3 18-16-7 15-11-4
x-Columbus 43 32 7 93 231 216 22-15-4 21-17-3 16-13-1
Washington 38 30 14 90 235 240 21-13-7 17-17-7 12-15-3
New Jersey 35 29 18 88 197 208 21-11-9 14-18-9 16-9-5
Carolina 36 35 11 83 207 230 18-17-6 18-18-5 15-13-2
NY Islanders 34 37 11 79 225 267 13-19-9 21-18-2 10-16-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
2013 - 2014 NHL Western Conference Standings
 
Central Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Colorado 52 22 8 112 250 220 26-11-4 26-11-4 19-6-3
x-St. Louis 52 23 7 111 248 191 28-9-4 24-14-3 21-6-2
x-Chicago 46 21 15 107 267 220 27-7-7 19-14-8 13-13-3
x-Minnesota 43 27 12 98 207 206 26-10-5 17-17-7 14-12-3
x-Dallas 40 31 11 91 235 228 23-11-7 17-20-4 13-11-5
Nashville 38 32 12 88 216 242 19-17-5 19-15-7 12-13-4
Winnipeg 37 35 10 84 227 237 18-17-6 19-18-4 9-15-5
 
Pacific Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
z-Anaheim 54 20 8 116 266 209 29-8-4 25-12-4 22-4-3
x-San Jose 51 22 9 111 249 200 29-7-5 22-15-4 18-7-3
x-Los Angeles 46 28 8 100 206 174 23-14-4 23-14-4 16-10-3
Phoenix 37 30 15 89 216 231 22-14-5 15-16-10 14-9-6
Vancouver 36 35 11 83 196 223 20-15-6 16-20-5 12-13-4
Calgary 35 40 7 77 209 241 19-19-3 16-21-4 11-15-3
Edmonton 29 44 9 67 203 270 16-22-3 13-22-6 8-17-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
  • NASL: RailHawks vs. Ft. Lauderdale

    Tomorrow at 7:30 am on WRAL-2

  • PGA: RBC Heritage

    Tomorrow at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA: RBC Heritage

    Sunday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA: Zurich Classic of New Orleans

    Saturday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • MLB: Atlanta Braves at NY Mets

    Tomorrow at 7:05 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox

    Sunday at 7:05 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR
 
2nd
CHC 0
CIN 0
 
7:05pm Tonight
PIT
MIL
7:05pm Tonight
WAS
STL
7:05pm Tonight
CLE
TOR
7:08pm Tonight
DET
ANA
7:10pm Tonight
NYM
ATL
7:10pm Tonight
BOS
BAL
7:10pm Tonight
TAM
NYY
7:10pm Tonight
MIA
SEA
8:05pm Tonight
TEX
CWS
8:10pm Tonight
KAN
MIN
8:40pm Tonight
COL
PHI
10:05pm Tonight
OAK
HOU
10:10pm Tonight
LOS
ARI
10:10pm Tonight
SDP
SFG
7:00pm Tonight
TAM
MON
7:30pm Tonight
BOS
DET
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
DAL
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR