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Sabres, Maple Leafs clash in Buffalo

The Buffalo Sabres will try to avoid a third straight loss tonight, when they resume their rivalry with the Toronto Maple Leafs in a Northeast Division clash at First Niagara Center.

Tonight's tilt in Buffalo marks the first of six meetings between these clubs this season. The teams split six meetings a season ago, but Toronto won the final three encounters. That series winning streak included a 2-1 win in Buffalo on Feb. 16 and ended Toronto's seven-game road losing streak against the Sabres.

Toronto is currently second in the Northeast with 35 points, while the Sabres are two points back and tied with Montreal for third.

Buffalo is coming off consecutive home losses against the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators, dropping the Sabres to 1-1-2 on a five-game homestand that ends tonight. The Sabres are just 7-9-3 as the host this year.

After losing 4-1 to the Rangers last Saturday, the Sabres were dealt an overtime loss by the Senators on Tuesday. Jared Cowen scored the game-winning goal 45 seconds into OT, lifting Ottawa to the 3-2 decision in western New York.

On the winning goal, Jason Spezza brought the puck into the offensive zone on the left wing and flung it into the right corner for Erik Karlsson. Karlsson turned and found an unchecked Cowen, who buried it behind Ryan Miller after sneaking in from his point position.

Paul Szczechura and Tyler Ennis lit the lamp for the Sabres, who have lost eight of their last 11 contests (3-5-3). Miller made 41 saves in defeat.

The Sabres lost more than the game on Tuesday, as forward Ville Leino suffered an unspecified lower body injury in the setback and is expected to miss several weeks.

Leino has so far not lived up to the six-year, $27 million deal he signed with Buffalo in the offseason. In 29 games with the Sabres this season, the Finnish forward has three goals and seven assists.

Leino joins Buffalo forwards Brad Boyes (knee), Nathan Gerbe (concussion), Jochen Hecht (lower body), Patrick Kaleta (groin) and Corey Tropp (upper body) on the shelf. Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers is also sidelined with a broken wrist.

The Maple Leafs ended a two-game slide in their last trip to the ice, downing the visiting Carolina Hurricanes in an overtime decision on Tuesday. Tim Connolly netted the game-winner 44 seconds into OT, lifting Toronto to the 2-1 victory at Air Canada Centre.

The difference maker came off a rebound of a Joffrey Lupul shot from the right circle, which trickled behind Cam Ward and somehow squirted to a trailing Connolly for an easy stuff-in.

Connolly also scored in regulation, while James Reimer needed just 17 saves to earn the win.

"We were controlling the speed, the shot clock and the scoring chances," Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson said.

Toronto has lost two of its last three road games, but is still 9-7-0 as the visiting club this season. After tonight's contest, the Maple Leafs will return to ACC for a three-game homestand, which begins with Saturday's matchup with Vancouver.