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Beyond The Boards


Thursday, 12.15.2011 / 3:41 PM ET
By Kevin Snow - (@kwsnow) / BEYOND THE BOARDS
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Hard to believe that it’s taken this long, but the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs will finally meet for the first time this season tomorrow night at First Niagara Center. In fact, Toronto is the only Eastern Conference team the Sabres have yet to play this season.

The resurgent Buds will make their way down the QEW later today with a record of 16-11-3 (35 points) through 30 games, putting them two points ahead of the Sabres for second spot in the Northeast Division. They are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games, and own a road record of 9-7-0. The Maple Leafs also boast two of the league’s top four scorers in Phil Kessel (18 goals/36 pts.) and Joffrey Lupul (34 pts.), and have a power play that is currently ranked second in the NHL at 21.1% (23/109).

But despite all their success this season, the Maple Leafs have struggled mightily against Buffalo over the past six seasons. The Sabres are 29-12-1 against the Maple Leafs since the lockout. The 29 wins are Buffalo’s highest win total against one team during this time, ahead of Boston (27) and Montreal (24). After dropping a 2-1 decision at home to the Leafs on February 16 of last season, Buffalo will look to avoid consecutive home losses to Toronto for the first time since March 21/December 12, 2008.

Toronto’s power play success this season could also come to a screeching halt tomorrow night. Not only do the Sabres have the league’s seventh-best penalty killing unit (86.4%, 95/110), they have killed off their last 47 penalties against Toronto. The streak spans 13 games, dating back to March 27, 2009 when Nikolai Kulemin scored at 8:30 of the 3rd period. At 13 games, it’s also the longest active streak in the NHL.

Ryan Miller has posted some gaudy career numbers against the blue and white, going 24-11-0 all-time with a 2.28 GAA and a .928 SV%. He has more wins (24) and shutouts (4) against the Maple Leafs than any other team in the league, and his .928 save percentage is his best against any team that he’s played more than six times. Miller’s 24 career wins against the Maple Leafs lead all active goaltenders.

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