Phil Varone celebrates his first NHL goal last season. ©2015, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Phil Varone excited for Toronto debut; Goalie Anders Lindback to start

TORONTO – Buffalo Sabres center Phil Varone didn’t want to leave the Air Canada Centre ice this afternoon. The native of nearby Vaughn, Ontario, a town about 30 minutes north of here, wanted to soak everything in prior to his first game against the Maple Leafs.

“I was just saying I think this is one rink that you come into and you’re like, ‘I’m in the NHL,’” Varone said after leaving the ice after most of his teammates.

Tonight will be a special experience for the 24-year-old. About 50 or 60 family or friends plan to attend his 22nd NHL game.

“It’s a pretty big deal, I guess,” Varone said.

Meanwhile, Sabres goalie Anders Lindback will start tonight, his third nod in four games. The Swede also relieved Matt Hackett in Saturday’s 6-1 loss in Washington.

Lindback has a .915 save percentage with the Sabres.

“I thought last game he played a little bit better, so he deserves it,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said.

Meanwhile, the Sabres, losers of four straight games, will dress seven defensemen for the warm-up tonight, Nolan said. Rasmus Ristolainen left the ice last this afternoon, so he could be scratched.

Update: The Sabres have scratched defenseman Andre Benoit.

The Leafs will play without 16-goal center Nazem Kadri, who has been suspended two games for missing a team meeting Sunday.

Tonight’s tilt could be ugly. The reeling Leafs have lost five of the last six contests (1-4-1).

How bad are these teams? Chew on these nuggets the Canadian Press’ Stephen Whyno dug up. In their last 36 games, both teams are 7-26-3. The Sabres have been outscored by 52 goals, the Leafs 51.

Yup.

Related: Sabres’ Phil Varone ready to seize best chance of young career

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