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Game Preview: Sabres @ Leafs

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NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Toronto Maple Leafs John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Sabres at Toronto Maple Leafs: Game 54

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: Air Canada Centre

Broadcast/Streaming: CBC, NHL.tv

Opponent SBNation Site: Die By The Blade

The Leafs face their rivals down the QEW in the thick of a playoff race, and every point is crucial in the crowded race for the last two spots in the Atlantic division. Coming off a useful point gained in a OT loss against the Blues, the Leafs need a win tonight, especially against a Sabres team that is second from the bottom in the conference.

The Sabres are only six points out of the second wild card, but have to climb past seven teams to get there. Their playoff chances look slim, but they’re more than talented enough to slap some pee-pees and play the spoiler.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forward Lines

Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - Connor Brown

James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Mitch Marner

Leo Komarov - Nazem Kadri - William Nylander

Matt Martin - Ben Smith - Nikita Soshnikov

Defence Pairings

Morgan Rielly - Nikita Zaitsev

Jake Gardiner - Connor Carrick

Matt Hunwick - Roman Polak

Goaltenders

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

OTHER TEAM

Forward Lines

Tyler Ennis - Ryan O’Reilly - Kyle Oksposo

Marcus Foligno - Jack Eichel - Evander Kane

Justin Bailey - Sam Reinhart - Brian Gionta

Matt Moulson - Derek Grant - Nicolas Deslauriers

Defence Pairings

Dmitry Kulikov - Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe - Taylor Fedun

Josh Gorges - Justin Falk

Goaltenders

Robin Lehner

Anders Nillson

Buffalo is missing Cody Franson and Zemgus Girgensons, with the former injury weakening an already terrible defensive group. Look for the Leafs to try and take advantage of the Sabres bottom two pairings, while Buffalo will try and ride Ristolainen like a horse. That said, the Sabres offensive talent is no joke, and they run a top nine with game changers on every line. The Leafs will need to be sharp to make sure they’re not hurt by that forward group.