The Buffalo Sabres are starting to find the back of the net following a lengthy losing streak.
So are the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Buffalo looks for its seventh straight victory against the Maple Leafs and seventh in a row in Toronto on Monday, when the Northeast Division rivals each try to extend their respective winning streaks to three.
The Sabres (14-7-2), who have not lost to Toronto since a 2-1 defeat Dec. 12, 2008, are trying to build off Saturday’s 5-1 victory over Carolina.
Jochen Hecht(notes), Derek Roy(notes) and Thomas Vanek(notes) each had a goal and an assist as Buffalo scored five third-period goals and won its second straight following a four-game skid from Nov. 18-25.
The Sabres, who scored six goals during that slide, have nine in their last two games.
The solid play of Ryan Miller(notes) in net has also been a major factor in Buffalo’s recent turnaround. Miller, who leads the league with a 1.93 GAA, made 30 saves Saturday, including a spectacular save late in the second period when Buffalo was trailing 1-0.
That’s exactly what Toronto (6-11-7) has done since dropping five straight from Nov. 10-19.
The Maple Leafs followed up Wednesday’s 4-3 win at Tampa Bay with a 6-4 victory at Florida on Friday. Niklas Hagman(notes) and Phil Kessel(notes) each netted two goal as Toronto matched a season high in goals.
“Maybe the worm is finally turning for us,” said Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson, whose team will go for its first win against Buffalo at the Air Canada Centre since a 4-2 victory Jan. 19, 2008. “We’ve been out-shooting everybody and we’ve got a couple of really confident guys in Phil (Kessel) and Hagman, who have just found a way to get in the net.”
Toronto, which averaged 2.47 goals during its 3-11-5 start, have scored 19 times during its current 3-0-2 stretch.
After scoring six goals in his first 17 games, Hagman has found the back of the net seven times in his last six contests.
“It’s nice to have a (four-game goal-scoring) streak like this,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate when I am getting chances I manage to put it in. You don’t want to think about it too much.”
Hagman recorded an assist in the 3-2 overtime loss at Buffalo on Oct. 30.
Gustavsson made 26 saves Friday when Toronto rallied from a 2-0 first-period deficit.
“It’s not the best start with the early goals but we came back strongly and I had some more saves to show my teammates I’m not quitting,” Gustavsson said.
Miller is 6-0-0 with a 1.48 GAA in his last six starts in Toronto. He made 32 saves in Buffalo’s last visit to the Air Canada Centre—a 3-1 victory April 8.