NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, November 15th (All times Eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (11-6-1) at Buffalo Sabres (4-15-1), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Buffalo Sabres didn't have much time to celebrate their first victory on home ice before wholesale changes hit the club.
The Sabres look to post their first winning streak of the season on Friday night, when Ted Nolan begins his second stint as the club's head coach in the opener of a home-and-home set with the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.
Buffalo went into Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Kings with just three victories in 19 games this season and an 0-8-1 record on home ice. However, shootout goals from Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis coupled with 43 saves by Ryan Miller led to a 3-2 victory for the Sabres.
Cody Hodgson scored both regulation goals for the Sabres and Moulson assisted on both tallies. Ennis added an assist.
"I thought we were working together in the zone. These are the kind of games where teams hang around and we need to do the little things to win. We did that tonight," said Miller, who 46 career shootout wins are the most in NHL history.
The victory did not save the jobs of general manager Darcy Regier and head coach Ron Rolston. The two were fired by owner Terry Pegula on Tuesday night and replaced by Nolan and Pat LaFontaine, who was named president of hockey operations.
"It's great to be back," said Nolan on Wednesday. "Hopefully, I can bring some credibility back to this organization."
LaFontaine, who starred for six seasons with the Sabres from 1991-92 until 1996-97, will be tasked with hiring a new GM.
Rolston was in his first season as the full-time head coach, having taken over on an interim basis last February when Lindy Ruff was fired. The Sabres finished 15-11-5 in 31 games under Rolston last season before this year's rough start.
"We didn't exactly put Ron in the best of situations as head coach with some of the moves we've made and the direction we've taken the organization," said Pegula at a Wednesday news conference.
Re-enter Nolan, who was Buffalo's head coach for two seasons from 1995-97 before Ruff had his stellar run of 15 years as head coach.
Coincidentally, Regier was the one who opted not to renew Nolan's contract.
At least one move Regier made before his departure appears to be working out. He acquired Moulson from the New York Islanders during the season along with a 2014 first-round pick and a second-round selection in 2015 for forward Thomas Vanek. Moulson has two goals and eight points in seven games with the Sabres.
Buffalo, which has not won two straight in 2013-14, split four meetings with the Maple Leafs last season but is 11-1-1 in the last 13 encounters on home ice.
Miller went 2-1-1 with a 2.91 goals against average in the four games versus the Leafs last season and this will mark the first meeting between the clubs since a preseason clash on Sept. 22 that resulted in a line brawl.
Buffalo's John Scott lit the powder keg, going after Toronto's Phil Kessel, an unwilling opponent, before the brawl erupted. One of the fallouts was Maple Leafs forward David Clarkson leaving the bench and subsequently getting a 10- game suspension.
Toronto has cooled down a bit since its 6-1 start and is coming off its third loss in four games. The Maple Leafs did earn a point, falling 2-1 in a shootout to the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday.
Jonathan Bernier made 33 saves, giving up the game-tying goal with 4:17 to go in regulation after Toronto's offense managed just a goal from Mason Raymond in the second period. Bernier was then beaten twice in the shootout.
It was an eventful game for Leafs forward Nazem Kadri, who was twice involved in plays that saw a Wild player take a hit to the head. He first crashed into Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom during the first period, with Backstrom eventually leaving the game due to injury, and Kadri later picked up a 10- minute match penalty for an illegal hit on Mikael Granlund.
"(Kadri) made initial contact with the shoulder and (Granlund) had his head down. He didn't have his arms up, he ran into the player. Granlund snapped his head back and obviously, the referee saw it differently," Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle said.
Kadri did in fact receive a suspension following a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety on Thursday, but the three-game ban was issued for his hit on Backstrom and not Granlund.
Carlyle could opt to give James Reimer the start tonight given that he is 5-2-1 in his career versus the Sabres despite a 3.48 GAA.
Bernier has lost both of his previous encounters with Buffalo, allowing eight goals on 52 shots.
11/15 10:48:24 ET