After beginning the season by edging a division rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs take on another when they face the Buffalo Sabres in their home opener on Monday. Toronto kicked off the abbreviated 2012-13 campaign with a 2-1 triumph over the Northeast-rival Canadiens in Montreal on Saturday as Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak scored power-play goals. Phil Kessel set up both tallies for the Maple Leafs, who improved to 37-41-14-3 in season openers.
Buffalo got off to a great start as it rolled to a 5-2 home victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in its season opener on Sunday. Thomas Vanek had a career day as he figured in on all five Sabres goals, scoring two and assisting on the other three. The Sabres improved to 24-14-4 in season openers and 17-6-4 when beginning the campaign at home.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, MSG (Buffalo), RSN (Toronto)
ABOUT THE SABRES (1-0-0): Center Mikhail Grigorenko became the sixth 18-year-old to play in a season opener for Buffalo. At 18 years and 254 days, the 12th overall pick in 2012 is the fifth-youngest to appear in an opener for the Sabres behind Pierre Turgeon (18 years, 41 days), Tom Barrasso (18, 188), Phil Housley (18, 211) and Shawn Anderson (18, 244). Center Ville Leino was unable to play against his former team on Sunday due to a lower-body injury. Leino was hurt in practice on Friday. Center Steve Ott endeared himself to Buffalo fans by scoring the game's first goal in his debut with the Sabres. Ott was acquired from the Dallas Stars over the summer in the Derek Roy trade.
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (1-0-0): Kessel's two assists on Saturday raised his career total to 17 against Montreal, his highest versus any team. Kessel's next goal will be his 100th as a Maple Leaf. Toronto locked up Joffrey Lupul for the forseeable future, signing the right wing to a five-year contract extension on Sunday. "Thrilled to be a Maple Leaf for five more years," Lupul said on his Twitter account. "Look forward to doing everything I can to help bring a Stanley Cup to Toronto." Lupul ranked second on the team in goals (25), assists (42), points (67) and power-play tallies (eight) last season.
1. LW James van Riemsdyk's first point as a Maple Leaf will be the 100th of his NHL career.
2. After playing in Toronto, the Sabres have two days off before beginning a home-and-home series against the Hurricanes in Carolina on Thursday.
3. Monday's contest begins a stretch of four games in six nights for the Maple Leafs.
PREDICTION: Sabres 5, Maple Leafs 3.