The Toronto Maple Leafs look to avoid a fourth consecutive trip to the shootout when they host the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. Toronto snapped a two-game skid with a shootout victory over Phoenix on Dec. 19, then fell to both Detroit and the New York Rangers in the bonus format. The Maple Leafs scored just one goal in two of the three games and have netted more than one tally only once in their last five contests (1-2-2).
Buffalo has won three of its last four games and earned at least one point in five of seven (4-2-1). The Sabres are coming off a 2-1 overtime home victory over Phoenix on Monday in which defenseman Mark Pysyk was credited with his second career goal when the puck popped into the air and fell into the back of Mike Smith's pants before the goaltender spun around and slid back into his own net, unknowingly handing Buffalo the win. The Sabres won two of their first three meetings with the Maple Leafs, most recently capturing a 3-2 overtime decision at home on Nov. 29.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, MSG (Buffalo), TSN (Toronto)
ABOUT THE SABRES (10-24-3): After scoring six goals in 11 games with the New York Islanders prior to being traded, Matt Moulson has netted the same amount of tallies in 24 contests with Buffalo. The 30-year-old was leading the NHL with five power-play goals at the time of the deal but has scored only twice with the man advantage since and is tied with Nashville defenseman Shea Weber for fifth place - five behind Washington's Alex Ovechkin. Cody Hodgson, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, leads Buffalo with 19 points but is tied for 140th in the league.
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (18-16-5): Phil Kessel leads the team with 17 goals but has gone five games without a tally, notching just one assist in that span. The 26-year-old has scored only once in his last nine contests. Kessel also shares the team lead in assists (16) with defenseman Cody Franson.
1. Toronto has scored a total of eight goals in its last five games following a 7-3 triumph over Chicago on Dec. 14.
2. Buffalo G Ryan Miller has won four of his last five decisions, allowing fewer than three goals in all five contests.
3. Maple Leafs G Jonathan Bernier has won just one of his last seven decisions (1-4-2).
PREDICTION: Maple Leafs 3, Sabres 1