The Toronto Maple Leafs are scoring with more regularity at home. They’d like to start doing so on the road.
The Maple Leafs try to avoid a seventh consecutive road loss Friday night when they face the Buffalo Sabres, who are the league’s lowest-scoring home team but have been dominating this Northeast Division rivalry.
Toronto (8-9-3), among the league’s lowest-scoring teams with 2.4 goals per game, has outscored opponents 12-8 while winning three of four. The second line of Mikhail Grabovski(notes), Nikolai Kulemin(notes) and Clarke MacArthur(notes) have sparked this surge, combining for five goals and nine assists.
Kulemin scored twice, Grabovski had two assists and MacArthur added an assist in Monday’s 4-1 victory over Dallas.
“At the start of the year you’d never have expected us to click like that,” said MacArthur, who has a team-high 18 points after signing with Toronto in the offseason. “I just feel like we all have a good little quality and we’re hungry every night - that’s the biggest thing.”
The Leafs had at least three goals for a fourth straight home game Monday after scoring only nine over their previous six games in Toronto.
Their scoring struggles away from home, however, are ongoing. They’ve been shut out three times during a six-game road losing streak, totaling seven goals in that span while going 1 for 26 on the power play.
Toronto follows this division game with another one at Ottawa on Saturday night.
“Obviously you play half the season on the road and we’re going into two tough rinks, but we’re going to have our fans there with us,” MacArthur told the Leafs’ official website going into his first appearance at HSBC Arena since being traded from Buffalo to Atlanta in March.
The Sabres (8-12-3), who have won 15 of 18 against Toronto, would like to spoil his homecoming as they look to rebound from Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Pittsburgh. Buffalo has scored once in two games since opening its four-game homestand last Friday with a 4-2 victory over Los Angeles.
Coach Lindy Ruff’s team is averaging a league-low 2.1 goals at home and is 5 for 46 there on the power play - 0 for 5 the last two games.
“You can’t miss the net on the power play when you’re dead in the slot,” Ruff said. “Those are ones you’re going to have to convert if you’re going to win hockey games.”
The Maple Leafs’ penalty kill has improved over the last four games, stopping six of seven chances.
Roy had a goal and an assist in Buffalo’s 3-2 shootout win at Toronto on Nov. 6, while Grabovski and Kulemin each scored for the Leafs.
Miller is 10-1-0 with a 1.54 goals-against average in his last 11 starts versus the Leafs, including victories in all five of Toronto’s visits to Buffalo.
Gustavsson is 0-1-2 with a 2.95 GAA in three starts versus Buffalo.