Sports Hockey

Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly battles for the puck against Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane during first period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

Leafs beat Sabres, lose Rielly

Auston Matthews fired the first on-ice salvo in the opening instalment of what should be lengthy Golden Horseshoe rivalry with the Buffalo Sabres’ Jack Eichel, but his Maple Leafs may have paid a painful price for the victory.

Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews (centre) celebrates his goal against the Sharks during NHL action in Toronto on Dec. 13, 2016. (Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun)

Rating the Leafs' first half

If they win all those games in hand, if the Lightning, Panthers and Bruins keep underachieving and if they get past the inevitable injury bug, then yes, the Maple Leafs could make the playoffs.