Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres rallied for a 4-3 shootout win over the New York Islanders last night. The win was the 235th of Miller’s career – giving him the Sabres franchise record for victories.
Miller had a rough first period, allowing three goals on nine shots thanks to a bad redirect and some poor team defense. Mike Weber was the first culprit, making a horrible behind-the-back pass which led to the first of Frans Nielsen’s two goals. Nielsen’s second goal came off Miller’s stick as he attempted to block a clearing pass. Josh Bailey also scored on a rush that was barely defended by all five Sabres on the ice.
However, Miller went on to stop the next 29 shots and two in the shootout to get the victory. Miller’s play in the second and third was strong and he was spectacular in overtime. He was a key to the victory, in the end, making a number of clutch saves in the dying minutes and through a full four-on-three in overtime.
The Sabres have earned seven of their last eight points and points nine and ten will be up for grabs on Wednesday night. Wednesday’s test will be significantly tougher than the previous four as the Bruins come into town. On the bright side, the Sabres seem to be slowly finding some offense in this recent stretch of strong play.
- Miller deserves the credit for this record. There are plenty of Sabres fans out there who don’t appreciate what he brings to the table. One fan seems to think Miller is destined for failure and that Jhonas Enroth will surely roll up 300+ wins in his career with the Sabres. That guy must have a very high hockey IQ.
- Miller’s record certainly shouldn’t be discounted, but understand that Dominik Hasek would have had many more victories had he played his prime in the shootout era. Hasek would have been good for a few shootouts in the 70 games that he tied during his career in Buffalo. I do wonder how effective his teammates would have been in the shootout given the dire lack of offense those teams had.
- Mike Weber’s error was a glaring one. I wonder how much slack he has with Lindy Ruff, particularly considering the consistently awful play Marc-Andre Gragnani has shown this season. Ruff called out Weber twice in his press conference, you have to wonder if he will see some time in the press box soon.
- Two of Buffalo’s most vilified scorers combined for a big goal last night. Ville Leino set up Derek Roy for what was really a pretty greasy, weak goal. But the goal was key in getting the game tied, give credit to this team for jumping on the momentum created by that goal.
- Not sure what Leino was thinking when he jumped off the bench so early in overtime. Luckily the Sabres killed the penalty, but I don’t think the rush Leino was attempting to thwart was looking very dangerous.
- Paul Gaustad’s trade value is likely sky-high after this week. He has four points (2+2), approximately 100 blocked shots and has remained strong on faceoffs. Don’t forget that a number of his blocks have come on crucial overtime penalty kills. I’m open to retaining Gaustad for no more than $1m per season this summer. However, I doubt that is a feasible option. I expect that Gaustad will fetch a pretty decent return if he continues this play.