Preview: Maple Leafs at Sabres
Auston Matthews has returned with a vengeance, recording three goals and an assist in two contests after missing 14 with a shoulder injury. The 21-year-old star looks to help the Toronto Maple Leafs extend their winning streak to five games when they visit the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.
Matthews began the season with a seven-game multi-point streak but was kept off the scoresheet in four straight contests before being sidelined. The 2017 Calder Trophy winner appears to have regained his old form following his recovery, scoring two goals and setting up another in Toronto’s victory over San Jose on Wednesday while also tallying in Saturday’s 5-3 triumph at Minnesota. Buffalo returns to the comforts of home after completing an 0-2-1 road trip – which followed a 10-game winning streak – with a 2-1 setback in Nashville on Monday. Sam Reinhart scored the lone goal for the Sabres, who won all six of their contests at KeyBank Center in November and have gone 7-0-1 over their last eight in their own arena as they begin a four-game homestand.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, TSN4 (Toronto)
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (19-8-0): The rich will be getting richer, as William Nylander – who was a restricted free agent – is expected to be in the lineup soon after signing a six-year, $45 million contract just before Saturday’s deadline for eligibility to play in the NHL this season. The 22-year-old right wing, who has reached the 20-goal plateau each of the last two campaigns, figures to make his season debut either Thursday against Detroit or in Boston on Saturday as Toronto kicks off a five-game road trip. Mitch Marner, who leads the team with 38 points, is riding a four-game assist streak during which he has set up 10 goals.
ABOUT THE SABRES (17-8-3): Reinhart has been heating up for Buffalo as he enters Tuesday with a three-game goal-scoring streak during which he has netted four of his seven tallies on the season. The 23-year-old forward scored just once in his previous eight contests. Jeff Skinner was kept off the scoresheet Monday after registering points (six goals, one assist) in six of his previous seven games.
1. Toronto LW Zach Hyman has recorded three goals in his last three games after scoring the same amount over his first 24 contests this season.
2. Buffalo D Rasmus Dahlin, who was named the NHL Rookie of the Month for November, has gone three contests without a point following a four-game assist streak.
3. The Maple Leafs acquired Michael Carcone from Vancouver for fellow LW Josh Leivo and recalled D Travis Dermott from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.