The Sabres try to win the final game against the Leafs

Carter Hutton remains in goal for Buffalo

Paul Hamilton
March 20, 2019 - 12:41 pm

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - The Sabres have lost four straight games to Toronto, including three games this season. The Leafs have won 4-3 in overtime, 5-3 and 5-2. In the three games, Auston Matthews and John Tavares have five points, while Mitch Marner has four. Rasmus Ristolainen said, “You’ve got to see where you can challenge yourself against the top guys in the league and you’ve got to be aware all the time and it takes 60 minutes to shut them down.”

The Sabres have another opportunity to win two games in a row. Buffalo hasn’t won two straight since December, and Ristolainen said they need to win for the fans, not to win two in a row, “I don’t think about how many wins you have in a row, I just want to win every game. I feel it’s been a better mood this week and you want to win and you want to give the fans what they earned and get as many wins as possible.”

If you recall against St. Louis, Zemgus Girgensons, Johan Larsson, Casey Nelson, Marco Scandella and Kyle Okposo all threw thundering body checks in a 27-second span. The fans went crazy and it was nice to feel electricity in the building again. Ristolainen loved it, but there was one part he didn’t like, he wanted to take part, “The one shift was awesome when Gussy and Larry and whoever was out there they were hitting everything and the fans were getting excited, I wish I was out there too, it was fun.”

Okposo could feel the fans getting revved up as he was skating down ice. He said, “It’s a lot of fun when the fans are into it, you get energized and it just helps us on the ice.

“I was pretty sure I was finishing that hit, so that was fun and it’s little stuff that you have to appreciate and we love it when the fans get into it like that and we wish over the last few months we would’ve given them more opportunities like that to cheer.”

I think the players can see what it’s like to play when the building’s rocking. Okposo said, “I said it after the first period when I walked into the room it was like, 'How much more fun is that to play like that?' Just to be into to it, to be intense, to have everybody on the same page working for each other, there was just an added intensity and we’ve got to find that.”

The Sabres will have the same lineup again with Carter Hutton is goal. Hutton made 30 saves in 65 minutes against the Blues. Jason Pominville, Scott Wilson and Matt Hunwick are the healthy scratches.

Toronto comes in with one win in five games, giving up 26 goals in the process. Garret Sparks is getting his second start in three games. He gave up six in a loss at Ottawa.

Marner leads the Leafs with 85 points in 73 games, while Tavares has 40 goals and 79 points. Matthews has only played 59 games and has 34 goals and 66 points.

Matthews in on a 92-point pace, while Jack Eichel is on an 88-point level.

It’s looking like Toronto is going to finish in third place in the Atlantic Division and have to open the playoffs in Boston. The Leafs trail the Bruins by six points.

Join Schopp and the Bulldog for the pre-game live at (716) Food and Sport starting at 6:00 when they’ll be joined by Phil Housley, Rasmus Ristolainen and Kyle Okposo.

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