The Buffalo Sabres will try to put an end to their seven-game losing streak when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
The Sabres are coming off a 4-1 road loss to the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday, while the Maple Leafs opened a three-game homestand Thursday with a 3-2 overtime loss to the red-hot New Jersey Devils.
“I thought the difference was that we beat ourselves at times and gave them free goals,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “They didn’t beat themselves at all. That’s how you win 11 in a row. You don’t beat yourself. I am concerned about (that). We have shown here lately that we can win games (5-1-1 in the previous seven) and we can beat really good teams.
“This is the best team in the NHL right now. We didn’t play a great hockey game, but we still get a point and we’re right there. That shows what we’re capable of. But we have to stop beating ourselves.”
The Maple Leafs will face a Buffalo team on a different type of streak. Buffalo has lost seven in a row in regulation to erase a promising 7-3-0 start to the season.
“We’re in a different area for us,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “There’s greater expectation, I think, external and internal. And we have to learn how to handle that.”
The Sabres lost goaltender Eric Comrie (lower-body injury) midway through the second period on Wednesday. He was replaced by Craig Anderson.
As a result, Buffalo recalled goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League on Thursday. He is 6-3-0 with an .898 save percentage and 3.07 goals-against average with the Americans this season.
Comrie will be out several weeks, according to Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams. He said Anderson and Luukkonen will share the netminding duties in the absence of Comrie.
Comrie started 11 of 17 games for the Sabres this season.
Comrie appeared to injure his left knee at 9:43 of the second period when he collided with Senators forward Mathieu Joseph, who was pushed into the goalie by Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Dahlin. Comrie stayed in the game and allowed Senators captain Brady Tkachuk’s go-ahead tally 14 seconds later.
“That was my fault. I apologized to (Comrie),” Dahlin said. “(Joseph) came very close to the net and I tried to stop him and I bumped him into Eric.”
Anderson figures to be a key to the chances of a Sabres turnaround coming soon.
“We’ve got to kind of dig down deep because there’s no magic stick we’re going to wave at it,” Anderson said. “It’s going to come from within. We’re going to have to dig in and look at ourselves in the mirror and say, ‘Where can we as an individual and as a group help the team win, get back on track?’ “
Matt Murray likely will make his third straight start in goal for Toronto on Saturday.
Auston Matthews, who scored his eighth goal of the season for Toronto on Thursday, took a shot off the foot in practice on Friday and left the ice. “He’s fine,” Keefe said of Matthews, the reigning Hart Trophy recipient.
Mitchell Marner earned an assist on Matthews’s goal and has a point in 11 consecutive games. He has three goals and 12 assists in that span.
–Field Level Media