Drew Stafford will be back in the Sabres lineup tonight after spending Thursday's practice on the fifth line -- yes, the fifth line.
Stafford is third on the Sabres in goals (19) and fourth in points (43) but his career-high totals have been derailed of late as he has just two goals and two assists in the last 14 games. He played less than nine minutes in Wednesday's win over Florida.
"Message received and I'm definitely trying to get ready for tonight," Stafford said. "I need to keep working harder. I have to turn up the tenacity, a little bit of the competitiveness as far as battling for pucks. The only way to get out of it is to keep working. Only time will tell but unfortunately we don't have any time so it needs to happen now."
The Toronto media swarmed ex-Leaf Dominic Mooore, who will be playing his first game against his ex-team, and goaltender Ryan Miller. The Sabres' No. 1 netminder is set to go after missing 13 games with his high ankle sprain. Miller downplayed his role as a savior for his desperate team yesterday, and he said today people who say the Sabres can go on an extended run with him back in the lineup need to take the one-game-at-a-time mantra.
"[People say] if you just mark a 9-0 [record in the remaining games], you're in.' Well, it starts tonight," Miller said. "It starts with me in the locker room, putting my skates back on tonight and being with the boys."
The Leafs are 10-4-1 in their last 15 games and are just three points behind the Sabres. Buffalo, meanwhile, got no help last night as Montreal beat Tampa Bay in overtime and Florida bounced back from its collapse here to post a 4-2 win at Philadelphia.
The Sabres are seven points behind the Habs. Realistically, they have to win tonight and then tomorrow in Montreal -- preferably in regulation -- to cut the deficit to three and make things interesting.