Just over two weeks after their fight-filled battle at HSBC Arena, the border rivals meet for the fifth and final time this season on Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre.
On March 6, the Sabres posted a 4-2 victory on home ice in a game that featured four fights in as many minutes during the first period. Toronto’s Tie Domi and Darcy Tucker, who have combined for over 270 penalty minutes, sat out that game as they served suspensions for their parts in a fight-filled contest against the Ottawa Senators on March 4.
The Maple Leafs’ agitators will be back Saturday, and they can’t be happy. Toronto has won just two of its last nine games (2-3-2-2) as its lead over Washington for fifth place in the Eastern Conference has beem trimmed to four points.
The Sabres won’t be making the playoffs for the second straight season after a five-year run that included a Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 1999. They enter Satuday tied for last in the NHL with Pittsburgh and Carolina.
The game is more meaningful to the Maple Leafs, who have clinched a postseason berth but are seeking some momentum headed to a first-round series that could be against one of four teams.
During their recent nine-game slide, the Leafs have gone to overtime four times, losing twice, including Thursday’s 4-3 setback in Columbus against the worst team in the Western Conference.
The problem hasn’t been Owen Nolan, who has six goals in as many games with Toronto since he was acquired from San Jose.
The Sabres haven’t been much better lately, winning only one of their last six games (1-3-1-1). They last suffered a 3-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
Buffalo enters the day second-to-last in the NHL with 164 goals.
The teams split the first four meetings of the season.