Series (Game 4 of 6)

Series tied 3-3

Game 1: Saturday, November 6th
Maple Leafs2
Game 2: Friday, November 26th
Maple Leafs1Final
Game 3: Saturday, February 5th
Maple Leafs2Final
Game 4: Wednesday, February 16th
Maple Leafs2Final
Game 5: Saturday, March 12th
Maple Leafs4
Game 6: Tuesday, March 29th
Maple Leafs4

Maple Leafs 2

(25-27-6, 56 pts)

Sabres 1

(27-23-6, 60 pts)

Coverage: TSN

7:00 PM ET, February 16, 2011

First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York

1 2 3 T
TOR 0 1 12
BUF 0 0 11

J. Lupul (Maple Leafs - RW): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

P. Kessel (Maple Leafs - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

R. Miller (Sabres - G): Saves: 28, Save Pct.: .933

Maple Leafs-Sabres Preview


Trying to move into playoff position for the first time since very early in the season, the Buffalo Sabres could use some improved play from Ryan Miller. Drew Stafford is certainly doing his part in the offensive end.

A rested Miller will likely get a chance to redeem himself while Stafford looks to remain red-hot and help the Sabres continue their dominance of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.

Buffalo (27-22-6) is tied with Atlanta for ninth in the Eastern Conference, two points back of eighth-place Carolina. The Sabres haven't held a playoff position since a five-game losing streak that followed a season-opening win.

Tying the Hurricanes is the immediate goal, but earning a second consecutive postseason berth may require more consistency from Miller, who won the Vezina Trophy last season with a 41-18-8 record, a 2.22 goals-against average and five shutouts.

Miller is 7-1-1 in his last 10 starts, but owns a 3.00 GAA in that stretch while getting pulled once. He matched his career high in goals allowed while making 19 saves in a 7-6 overtime loss to the lowly New York Islanders on Sunday.

Those struggles were one reason he was rested for Tuesday's 3-2 shootout win at Montreal, as rookie Jhonas Enroth made 32 saves through overtime and seven more in the 10-round tiebreaker.

Miller didn't even dress Tuesday, ending his streak of 31 consecutive starts, during which he went 18-9-3 with a 2.85 GAA and three shutouts.

"Ryan plays a lot of games," right wing Jason Pominville said. "He wants to play every game. He's a competitor and he wants to be out there and help this team, but at the same time we're all aware that he needs rest and hopefully it will help him out and at the end of the day just benefit the team."

While Miller is trying to regain his best form, Stafford is the surprise team leader with a career-best 24 goals, netting 19 in his last 22 games. The right wing has scored nine times over the last five games, getting hat tricks in two of them.

Stafford had two goals and one assist while Miller made 23 saves in a 6-2 home win over Toronto on Feb. 5.

Facing the Maple Leafs (24-27-6) in the opener of a six-game homestand could get Miller untracked. He's won 12 of his last 13 starts against his Northeast Division rivals, compiling a 1.53 GAA and two shutouts and powering the Sabres' seven-game home winning streak in the series.

Partly thanks to Miller, the Sabres have won 13 of the last 14 overall versus Toronto.

The Leafs are trying to create some momentum on a 3-1-1 stretch. Mikhail Grabovski scored with 1:01 left in regulation to clinch a 4-3 win at Boston on Tuesday.

Similar to Stafford, Grabovski is Toronto's surprising goals leader with a personal-best 24 after finding the net twice against the Bruins. However, the center has just one goal in eight career visits to Buffalo and no points in the last three.

Phil Kessel has 21 goals and is coming off his own two-goal performance Tuesday, ending a 14-game drought that came one contest shy of matching the longest of his career.

The All-Star right wing has three goals in his last six road meetings with the Sabres.