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Starting 2007 On The Right Foot

Monday, 01.01.2007 / 12:00 AM / News
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Starting 2007 On The Right Foot
Good goaltending allows teams to play a wide-open style of hockey where the more dominate offense and netminder combination usually prevails.

In the first game of the New Year, the Buffalo Sabres - the league's most potent even-strength team - won a 3-1 decision because their offense continued to attack and their goaltender made game changing saves. Ryan Miller won his fourth consecutive start and 21st of the season by making 29-of-30 saves and carrying a shutout through 48 minutes.

Miller set the game's tone early with a flying glove-save on Richard Park midway through the first. After Arron Asham's shot rang off the crossbar, Miller dove back to the left post from the top of the crease and robbed Park of his fifth goal this season.

"[Asham] has a hard shot and it kind of crossed me up," said Miller. "I was looking to where it went. I saw Park had slipped to the side and I just had to get back."

"Everybody needs to realize how difficult that save is," said head coach Lindy Ruff. "First, you have to recognize where the rebound is. As a goaltender, you have no idea where a puck of the crossbar is going.

"For him to pick it up, and battle back to get some type of position on the next shot, showed a heck of an awareness on that play."

The decision was the third potential shutout that has slipped through Miller's fingers in the last three games. Jim Slater put Atlanta on the scoreboard last Wednesday with a goal at 2:41 in the third, while Carolina's Craig Adams scored with only a minute and nine seconds remaining in regulation on Saturday night.

"I've won every game," said Miller, who won blanked the Islanders 3-0 in the two teams first meeting on October 26 to record his lone shutout this season. "The boys have done a great job making sure we had more goals than they did."

"Ryan gives us a chance to win every night," said center Paul Gaustad. "He's one of those goaltenders that's always in the right place at the right time."

With their netminder making mind-blowing saves, Buffalo's forwards began work on New York netminder Rick DiPietro, who made 31 saves in defeat.

Snapping a 17-game goal drought, Gaustad gave Buffalo the 1-0 lead eight minutes into the first period.

Stationed in front on Buffalo's first power play, Gaustad converted a rebound from Brian Campbell's point shot into his sixth goal of the season at 8:06 on the power play. The Fargo, ND native hadn’t managed to tickle the twine since November 20 when he register a career-high two goals in Buffalo's 7-2 whooping of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"Where I score the majority of my goals is in front of the paint," said Gaustad. "I just have to get there and clean up the trash that is just laying around."

Brendan Witt got his ankles broken by Maxim Afinogenov on Buffalo second score. Streaking down the wing, Afinogenov cut to the net and hit the brakes - sending Witt sprawling out of position - before snapping his 18th of the season over DiPietro's left shoulder.

"There was some pretty good north/south action," said Ruff.

The last Islander to score before the team's goal shortage was also the one to end it. A total of 186:31 minutes separated Jason Blakes 21st and 22nd goals of the season.

Blake scored New York's first goal in nearly three games with a backhander from the top of the crease at 8:19 to make the score 2-1 in favor of Buffalo.

Jochen Hecht fired into an empty net at 19:44 to score his 10th of the season.
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82