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.