The Toronto Maple Leafs' feeling that they are back on track after their recent slump will be tested Saturday night by the visiting New York Rangers, who will be well-prepared after three days of practice.
The Maple Leafs defeated the Sabres 4-2 at Buffalo on Wednesday after losing 3-0 to the Predators in Nashville on Tuesday.
Both road games were improvements over the previous week when they allowed 23 goals in losing three of four games -- not ideal playoff preparation.
"I just think it brings us back to our confidence we need. It brings us back to the team we know we can be," said Maple Leafs right winger Mitch Marner, who scored a goal in Buffalo. "I think last week our confidence was a little low, we were giving up too many rushes, we were giving up too many chances. We kind of talked as a team, we sat down and realized, if we're working, how hard we can make it on teams. The last two games we've done a good job of that."
A dominant Toronto player in Buffalo was center Auston Matthews, who had a goal and an assist and has 200 career NHL points.
Matthews is the third fastest Maple Leafs player to reach 200 career NHL points at 204 games played. Charlie Conacher needed 197 games and Syl Apps did it in 200 games.
Matthews' goal against Buffalo went in off his skate.
"I think just the way it's been going for us, sometimes you've just got to get to the net and it's going to go off a skate or go off a shin pad and fall there for you," Matthews said. "Obviously, a really good bounce on that second goal and even the first one. Kind of the little bounces we needed (Wednesday), but I thought from start to finish we played really well and played a pretty complete game despite giving up the first goal."
Garret Sparks played goal for Toronto in Buffalo, but regular Frederik Andersen is expected to start Saturday.
The Maple Leafs (44-25-5) will still be without defensemen Travis Dermott (shoulder) and Jake Gardiner (back). Dermott expects to return in about two games with Gardiner likely to take a little longer.
The Rangers (28-32-13), who are out of playoff contention, are coming off a 3-2 home loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday.
They have had three days to prepare for Toronto. The teams have split their first two meetings this season.
Defenseman John Gilmour and center Vinni Lettieri were called up from Hartford of the American Hockey Association for the game Tuesday. Lettieri played in his 19th game for the Rangers this season. Gilmour played in the Rangers' final 28 games last season but was playing his first NHL game this season.
Rangers coach David Quinn knows Gilmour as an opponent when he coached Boston University and the defenseman played at Providence.
"I liked his game," Quinn said. "He skates really well. I thought he did a lot of really good things (Wednesday) with the puck. He made some good anticipation plays offensively."
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist surpassed 50,000 minutes of NHL playing time during the game against Detroit, all with the Rangers.
Alexandar Georgiev will get the start in goal Saturday for New York. Left winger Chris Kreider (hamstring) is listed as day-to-day and will not play. Defenseman Marc Staal (upper body) felt better but his status will be determined Saturday.
Rangers right winger Jesper Fast (shoulder) could be shut down for the rest of the season after not playing Tuesday.
--Field Level Media
Maple Leafs ready for well-prepared Rangers