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BUFFALO — The Maple Leafs have called in the cavalry, but whether a couple of new faces join the battle for a playoff spot is to be determined.
Forwards Egor Korshkov and Mason Marchment were summoned from the Toronto Marlies on Sunday morning, and there is a possibility that they could be in the lineup Sunday night at KeyBank Center against the Buffalo Sabres.
“We have some game-time decisions,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said after the Leafs met in the morning, forgoing a skate.
“We’ll get through the afternoon and see where we’re at. One thing affects another, so we haven’t made a determination on what we will do with those guys. We needed to have other extra guys available to have them as options.”
Are certain players dealing with illness or bumps and bruises?
“Little bit of both,” Keefe said. “Just the nature of the back-to-back and the way things have been going with our guys, we just want to make make certain that the group was ready.”
The Leafs are coming off a 4-2 win in Ottawa against the Senators on Saturday night, and with Frederik Andersen in goal against the Sabres, will try to improve on an unimpressive record in the second game of back-to-back sets. The Leafs are 2-6-3 in such situations.
Andersen has played once since returning from a neck injury, making 16 saves in a 3-2 loss against the Dallas Stars on Thursday
Jack Campbell was sharp against Ottawa, making 25 saves to improve to 3-0-1 since being acquired from the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 5.
“We’re hoping (the extra rest) helps (Andersen),” Keefe said. “We made the decision to give him an extra day to practice and get working yesterday to be prepared for today.
“We need to get him in the net and get him more reps and get him back to playing more regularly.”
The Leafs go into Sunday night in third place in the Atlantic Division with 70 points, four up on the Florida Panthers, who have a game in hand. The Panthers’ next game is on Monday, when they begin a five-game trip in San Jose.
The Leafs will have a day off in Pittsburgh on Monday before concluding a three-game trip on Tuesday night against the Penguins.
Auston Matthews scored his 42nd goal of the season in Ottawa, and yes, his Leafs teammates have taken note as Matthews closes in on 50.
“We’re all very aware of what he’s at and what number we want him to get to,” linemate Mitch Marner said. “We have a lot of games left, so hope we can get to that number. For us, it’s trying to make sure we don’t try to overdo it with the passing. But at the same time, we know he can score, so we’re not afraid to get in his hands.”
In 14 career games against the Sabres, Matthews has 17 points including 11 goals.
For the Sabres, who are 10 points out of a playoff spot, goalie Carter Hutton will be a game-time decision. Buffalo has recalled Andrew Hammond, but if Hutton can’t play, Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said rookie Jonas Johansson will start in net.
Marchment had one assist in a three-game stint with the Leafs earlier this season; if Korshkov plays, it will mark his National Hockey League debut and he will wear No. 96.
In 35 games with the Marlies, Korshkov has 14 goals and seven assists.
“He’s a guy that’s really worked to find his way and get comfortable in North America,” Keefe said of Korshkov. “When I was (coaching the Marlies), you could see a guy who was trying to figure a lot of things out in terms of the structure and positioning and the language, the style of play.
“The short sample last year in the (American Hockey League) playoffs, he was able to adjust, but it’s a different animal in the regular season and over the long haul. The games I’ve watched recently and all the reports that I’ve got, it’s starting to click for him. He is playing with lots of confidence offensively.
“If he is ever going to play in the NHL, he’s going to have to start in a situation where he’s not going to play a lot and have to make those adjustments where he’s going to have to really take advantage of every shift the gets.”
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