for this game

Maple Leafs try to keep postseason hopes alive vs. Sabres

Mar 29, 2011 - 3:22 PM (Sports Network) - With time running out in their push for the postseason, the Toronto Maple Leafs will face a key test tonight when they host the Buffalo Sabres at Air Canada Centre.

Toronto has already set a dubious club record with five straight seasons out of the playoffs and Ron Wilson's team is going to need a great deal of help to keep the drought from reaching six seasons.

Meanwhile, with 85 points, Buffalo is currently holding onto the eighth and final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. The Maple Leafs are in the 10th spot and are seven points in back of the Sabres with just six games to play.

Toronto had won three in a row before losing a regulation decision Saturday in Detroit. Jiri Hudler's goal at the 6:49 mark of the third period proved to be the game-winner in the Red Wings' 4-2 victory.

Joffrey Lupul and Nazem Kadri each had a goal for the Maple Leafs, while James Reimer made 25-of-28 stops in the loss. Toronto's regulation defeat combined with Buffalo's win over New Jersey on Saturday dropped the Leafs seven points behind the Sabres.

"It's a big loss for our team in the standings, but we have to respond now," Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf said.

Buffalo has taken three of five from the Maple Leafs this season, but Toronto has won the last two encounters, including a 4-3 regulation win when the clubs last met on March 12 at Air Canada Centre. Phil Kessel and Mikhail Grabovski scored third-period goals to lead Toronto to the comeback victory.

The Sabres have still won 13 of the last 16 meetings with Toronto overall and nine of the last 11 at ACC.

Buffalo has won three in a row and has registered a point in five straight games (4-0-1). The Sabres recorded a 2-0 win Saturday against the visiting Devils, as Ryan Miller made 30 stops for his fifth shutout of the season.

"When we had breakdowns Ryan made some big saves and that's what it's all about," said Sabres forward Jason Pominville. "I think it was a big team win for us tonight."

Nathan Gerbe and Thomas Vanek each had a goal for the Sabres, who have tied a season-high with three straight victories. Buffalo last won four in a row from March 18-24 of last season.

Miller is expected to get the start in net tonight for the Sabres. He is 24-10-0 with a 2.23 goals-against average in 34 career games against Toronto.

Reimer is 2-1-0 with a 3.86 GAA in three games versus Buffalo during his rookie campaign.

Toronto is 17-14-7 as the host this season, while the Sabres are 20-12-5 on the road.