BY: DAVID KOLB
BUFFALO SABRES (17-17-9) @ TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (20-13-8)
Tonight the Sabres head to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs in an Atlantic Division contest. This will be the second of five games the rivals will play against each other this season, as the Leafs took the first game in Buffalo on Nov. 3, edging the Sabres, 2-1. The Sabres perhaps put together the best games of the season Monday, defeating the Dallas Stars 4-1 in Buffalo, while the Leafs are starting to roll, having won three of their last four games, including Saturday’s big 4-2 win in Ottawa vs. the Senators.
Sabres’ center Jack Eichel picked up a pair of goals Monday while having his best overall game of the season. He fired a career-best 10 shots on goal while winning 13-of-19 faceoffs (68.4 percent). The Sabres improved to 18-7-2 (.704) in Eichel’s career when he scores a goal, and to 13-3-1 (.794) when he picks up two or more points in a game. Through 22 games, the sophomore has 10 goals and 17 points, including five in January.
Leafs’ rookie sensation, Auston Matthews picked up an assist in his second straight game Saturday, giving him three goals and four assists in six games this month. Matthews was held off the board in his first meeting against the Sabres, however has 21 goals and 16 assists for 37 points, and is the leading candidate as the NHL’s top rookie this season.
O’REILLY ON THE ROAD
Sabres center, Ryan O’Reilly, has recorded seven points in six games since returning from an appendectomy, which forced him to miss four games. O’Reilly has 16 points in 17 road games, including eight points in his last eight road games, and now has eight goals and 17 assists for 25 points in 33 games this season.
Sabres’ forward, Tyler Ennis, who has been out of the lineup since Nov. 7 with a groin injury, scored just 19 seconds into his return to the lineup Monday. Ennis will try and put together a solid second half of the season, as he enters tonight’s game with two goals and an assist in only 13 games this season.