Sabres-Maple Leafs Preview
By ALAN FERGUSON
(AP) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres each took their first steps toward putting behind a pair of disappointing seasons.
If the recent matchups in Toronto are any indication, the Maple Leafs might have the better chance to win in their next game as well.
While trying to get off to another strong start, they'll seek a sixth consecutive home victory over the Sabres on Monday night.
Owners of the league's longest active playoff drought, Toronto hasn't made it to the postseason since 2003-04 and hasn't finished with more than 85 points in any of the past five campaigns. The Maple Leafs failed to build on 4-0-1 starts in each of the last two seasons.
"We haven't made the playoffs," coach Randy Carlyle said. "When you're the butt of jokes in the hockey world, it's not fun. We take that seriously."
Toronto won its season opener once again, 2-1 in Montreal on Saturday, as Ben Scrivens stopped 21 shots in his 12th NHL start. James Reimer is expected to be the Leafs' top starter this season but Scrivens was a little fresher, having played in a team-best 22 games this season for the Maple Leafs' AHL affiliate.
"In a shortened season like this, we're going to have earn points on every night that we can," Scrivens said. "It's nice to start off on the right foot."
Buffalo missed the playoffs for the third time in five seasons in 2011-12 despite owner Terry Pegula opening his checkbook. The Sabres got their quest to return to the postseason off to a strong start with a 5-2 win over visiting Philadelphia on Sunday.
"I thought we had a good week of practice, training camp. Obviously, we wanted to start out with a win. We got that accomplished and we'll enjoy it for an hour and move on," said forward Thomas Vanek, who had Buffalo's first five-point game since Jan. 18, 2008.
Vanek finished with two goals and three assists, and linemate Jason Pominville had three assists.
"They spent a lot of years playing together. You go all the way back to their days in (AHL) Rochester," coach Lindy Ruff said. "Those two guys are a little bit like glue."
Steve Ott also scored in his debut for Buffalo (1-0-0) and will next try to help his new team end its lengthy drought in Toronto. The Maple Leafs (1-0-0) have also earned at least one point in each of their last eight home games with the Sabres.
Vanek and Pominville each had eight points (two goals, six assists) in last season's series, but Vanek had only one assist in the three games in Toronto.
Reimer and Scrivens, meanwhile, each recorded a home win over the Sabres last season. Scrivens, though, also gave up a career-worst six goals in an overtime loss in Buffalo on April 3, while Reimer has done enough to earn wins in four of his last five matchups.
Ryan Miller has lost in each of his last six games in Toronto, posting a 3.40 goals-against average. He's 3-6-0 with a 3.36 GAA in his last nine overall matchups with the Maple Leafs.
Mikhail Grabovski has five goals and two assists in his last seven games against the Sabres.
Buffalo's Ville Leino, one of the players signed with Pegula's money before last season, is doubtful to play at Air Canada Centre because of a leg injury while the Maple Leafs' Joffrey Lupul is expected to play his first game since signing a five-year contract extension.
Updated January 20, 2013