Have al­lowed 15 goals to Toronto

The Buffalo News - - NHL -

SABRES •fromB1

There’s more. The Sabres are 19-4-2 in their last 25 home games against Toronto but have lost two straight. And get this: The Leafs have not won three in a row in Buf­falo since win­ning the first six meet­ings in Memo­rial Au­di­to­rium dur­ing the first two sea­sons af­ter the Sabres en­tered the NHL in 1970.

The Sabres suf­fered a 5-4 over­time loss to the Leafs here on Dec. 4, fall­ing on an Aus­ton Matthews’ goal in­side the fi­nal three sec­onds of the ex­tra pe­riod. They en­dured 5-3 and 5-2 losses in Sco­tia­bank Arena within the last three weeks, giv­ing up goals in bunches in both games.

“The first game we played against them here I thought we played a re­ally strong game,” coach Phil Hous­ley said. “It was an up-and-down game and we were ag­gres­sive, we were on the forecheck. The last two games we played, it was just a cou­ple lit­tle men­tal lapses, two- and three-minute spans.”

“It’s def­i­nitely not a good feel­ing,” added cen­ter Evan Ro­drigues. “You don’t like to lose to any­one, but es­pe­cially those guys. We have a chance to­mor­row to put that be­hind us, get a win and keep mov­ing for­ward.”

The Sabres are com­ing off Sun­day’s 4-3 shootout vic­tory over St. Louis that snapped their seven-game los­ing streak. Thus, this is yet an­other chance to forge a win­ning streak, some­thing Buf­falo hasn’t done since mid-De­cem­ber.

In­cred­i­bly, the Sabres are 0-10-1 in their last 11 at­tempts to string two wins to­gether. They’ve gone 40 games with­out a win­ning streak, just shy of the fran­chise record of 44 set in 1971-72.

“That’s just a stat that bog­gles my mind,” Ok­poso said. “It’s a tough one to hang your hat on. We want to fin­ish strong here and this is a huge game.”

“You can’t re­ally com­plain. We just haven’t done it,” Ro­drigues said. “It’s some­thing you don’t want to have be a thing but it is, so we have a chance to get rid of that.”

When the Sabres hosted the Leafs in De­cem­ber, they were com­ing off a back-to-back the pre­vi­ous night in Nashville. So they were adding in travel and a time zone change. The Leafs will be fol­low­ing the same itin­er­ary in this meet­ing, com­ing from Tues­day night’s game with the Preda­tors in Bridge­stone Arena to the show­down in Buf­falo.

“We had a hard game in Nashville the night be­fore . ... It was a shame we came out on the los­ing end of it,” Ok­poso said of the first matchup. “The two games up there haven’t been great so we want to make sure we come out and have a great ef­fort and get a win for our fans.

“You al­ways want to jump on a team play­ing a back-to-back, es­pe­cially with travel. I don’t know what it is but it seems a lot of teams have come out fly­ing, es­pe­cially if they played the night be­fore. Maybe later in the game you wear them down. We’ll have to be ready.”

Harry Scull Jr./Buf­falo News

Kyle Ok­poso and the Sabres would like to close the sea­son series with Toronto with a vic­tory af­ter three straight losses.

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