Toronto Maple Leafs: Goalie Controversy Continues Into Buffalo

Vancouver Canucks v Toronto Maple Leafs
Vancouver Canucks v Toronto Maple Leafs / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Buffalo Sabres for the second time this season when the two face-off across the border Thursday night.

In their first contest of the year, the Toronto Maple Leafs were embarrassed with a 6-4 defeat that spoiled Auston Matthews' third hattrick of the season which were highlighted the big center tying the game twice in the third period.

The result of the game had the Sabres tying the Maple Leafs in the standings with 12 points a piece at that time, however, the two teams have gone in different directions since that first contest. Buffalo has gone on to win just seven of their next 21 games posting a 7-11-3 record in that time, while the Maple Leafs have gone 11-3-4 to jump up the standings.

Coach Sheldon Keefe will be going back to Ilya Samsonov in net for the game as the Russian goalie is looking at holding onto his spot on the team. The former Washington Capital's first round pick lost the starting job to Joseph Woll earlier this year (until his injury) and is now in jeopardy at losing his back-up spot to Martin Jones when Woll returns.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Goalie Controversy Continues Into Buffalo

Samsonov had shown signs of getting back to the top of his game, as outside of a forgettable game against the Chicago Blackhawks he had looked good since October 28, however, after shutting out the Nashville Predators ten days ago, Samsonov has allowed ten goals on 64 shots over his last two games.

Jones on the other hand has picked up three wins in four games and posted a .930 save percentage despite some unfortunate bounces on Tuesday night against the New York Rangers.

Auston Matthews will look to stay hot as the former Hart Trophy winner has nine goals during his current five game goal scoring streak and has 11 goals and 16 points over his last eight games. Matthews leads the league in goals with 25 and is currently on pace for 72-goals over 81-games.

Matthews will look to continue his success against the Sabres as including his hattrick earlier this season he has collected 16-goals and 26-points in 23 career games against Buffalo.

William Nylander will attempt to have his second point streak of at least ten games this season as he has now put together a nine game streak after having his 17-game streak to start the season snapped in late November. During his current run, Nylander has recorded 14-points and currently sits sixth in the league scoring race.

Buffalo will be trying to rebound after an embarrassing 9-4 loss on Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets in a game that saw four different Sabres finish -4.

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The forward lines are scheduled to be unchanged, while Simon Benoit will draw back in on defense with William Lagesson being the odd man out.