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Buffalo wraps lengthy road trip in Toronto

Main storyline: The Buffalo Sabres (19-42-5) have yet to win a game since the NHL Trade Deadline last Monday when the team shipped out four of its players. On Wednesday, Buffalo look to get its first win with its new crop of players against the Toronto Maple Leafs (26-35-6) at the Air Canada Centre.

Season series: Wednesday night’s game is the third of four meetings between the division rivals. The most recent matchup cam back on November 15 at the First Niagara Center when Buffalo crushed the Leafs 6-2. Zemgus Girgensons had two goals, while Tyler Ennis put up a three point night against James Reimer and the Leafs. The final meeting between these two teams will come on April 1 at the First Niagara Center. Buffalo is 1-1 against Toronto this year.

Where they stand: Well, the decent to the bottom continues for the Sabres as the team is now four points behind the Edmonton Oilers for 29th place in the league standings. Buffalo has a game in hand on Edmonton heading into Wednesday’s game in Toronto. For the Leafs, its decent to the bottom is coming at a quick pace as well. The Leafs are the fourth worst team in the NHL, but remain eight points ahead of the 28th place Arizona Coyotes.

Recent performance: Matt Hackett was recalled on Saturday and started against the Washington Capitals on Saturday night. Buffalo got out to a quick 1-0 lead on a goal from Johan Larsson, but the Capitals tied the game less than three minutes later. In the second period, the Capitals got three goals from Jay Beagle, Alex Ovechkin and Brooks Laich to chase Hackett from the net. Washington would add two more goals in the third to blow the Sabres out 6-1. The Leafs were at home on Monday, and had a 2-0 lead heading into the third period against the New York Islanders. The Islanders would come back from down 3-1 halfway through the third period to force overtime in Toronto. With about 22-seconds left in overtime, Islanders captain John Tavares scored the game-winning goal in the extra frame.

Buffalo notes: The Sabres were on a short hot streak before the Trade Deadline last Monday. Since then, the Sabres have lost three straight games, and have struggled to find some new chemistry on lines. The Sabres continue to swap players in and out of spots in the lineup, as on Wednesday, Johan Larsson will be centering the first line. Larsson has improved his game ever since being recalled back in mid-February, and had a goal against Washington on Saturday. The Sabres may have a new problem at goaltender following Saturday’s game. Newly acquired goalie Chad Johnson was injured before his projected start on Friday against the Ottawa Senators, and he may not even get one start with the Sabres for the rest of the season. Anders Lindback will play in his fourth consecutive game on Wednesday as he looks for his first win since January 13 as a member of the Dallas Stars.

Toronto notes: The Leafs are struggling, and have been in a rut since the firing of head coach Randy Carlyle. The Leafs have gone 5-18-3 since interim head coach Peter Horachek, and have had a series of issues throughout the year. The latest problems revolve around center Nazem Kadri. Kadri missed a team meeting Sunday, and was scratched for Monday’s game as punishment. On Wednesday, Leafs president Brendan Shanahan has scratched Kadri for an additional two games as a lesson of missing the meeting. Kadri has been known for having past issues of inconsistencies on the ice. In the 2014-15 season, Kadri has played 64 games and has registered 16 goals and 20 assists.  But Kadri should be the least of the team’s worries, as the team is set to make a major overhaul come the offseason. In other news, Jonathan Bernier is expected to start in goal for the Leafs once again on Wednesday. Bernier has had five of the past six starts for the Leafs since February 28.

Conclusion: Both teams would like a win to get out of funks, but who will prevail? Opening face-off is set for 7pm from the Air Canada Centre. The game can be seen on MSG Network.

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