Sabres vs. Maple Leafs preview: Northeast rivals meet on Thursday

USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs (10-7-0) will host the Buffalo Sabres (6-10-1) in a Northeast Division matchup at Air Canada Centre on Thursday night.

It will mark the third of four meetings between the two teams this season.

This contest will mark the first game in the post-Lindy Ruff era in Buffalo. Having led the team since 1997, Ruff had coached in 1,165 regular season games and earned almost 600 career wins. In addition, there had been 170 different coaching changes in the NHL spanning the time Ruff had taken over and the time he was fired.

However, a sluggish start to the 2013 season proved to be the last straw for Sabres' management, as the club had only compiled a 6-10-1 record and had gone 3-7-0 in their last 10.

Despite the Sabres early season trouble, they did manage to register points in both games against the Maple Leafs. Winning the first contest by a final score of 2-1, Buffalo also earned a point in a 4-3 overtime loss to Toronto at the end of January.

Entering the night, the Sabres have lost four of their last five games.

Toronto will be coming into the contest off a disappointing 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night. Having shutout their two previous opponents by the identical score of 3-0, the Leafs struggled to stifle the high-octane Lightning offense.

However, the club has seen a considerable amount of recent success, as they have recorded wins in six of their last eight games.

James van Riemsdyk will be carrying a three-game point streak into the night (one goal, two assits), while Phil Kessel and Clarke MacArthur both have two-game point streaks.

Thursday night's game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., ET and will be televised on MSG-Buffalo and SNET-O.

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