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NOTEBOOK: NO MAD DASH FOR MILLER

Sunday, 03.30.2008 / 10:11 PM / News
By Brian Wheeler  - Sabres.com
Goaltender Ryan Miller remained in his perch guarding the Buffalo Sabres net and watched as a rookie defenseman kept the team's post-season dreams alive.  Miller hadn't budged for 60:32; hadn't skated away from the blue paint of his crease to a Buffalo bench without the prospect of returning on Sunday night.

Head coach Lindy Ruff revisited a dangerous proposition concerning Miller as he watched the ship he pilots steaming its way on a course for overtime. 

Was an extra attacker worth an unprotected net?  Was advancing a valuable point on playoff-bubble team by winning in regulation worth seeing his team eliminated from the race altogether?

Ultimately, Ruff decided to stick with his pre-game decision.  The risk just wasn't worth the possible reward of triggering Miller's mad dash to the pine.

"We would have like to [have won in regulation] but not at the expense of losing in regulation," said Ruff.  "We couldn't afford that.  We needed two points and no points wouldn't have done us any good."

Andrej Sekera's goal 32 seconds into OT earned those two points and kept Buffalo in the hunt for their third-consecutive post-season berth. 

But it also increased the margin of error for the Bruins, a team Buffalo is trying to catch.

The Sabres can finished with a maximum of 92 points by sweeping their remaining three games.  The overtime point moved Boston into a tie with the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers at 91 points and the final three playoff spots.  Each team have three games remaining as many games remaining.

"It gives us a shot," said Ruff.

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An old hockey adage goes; teams find out how good they are by going on the road.  Buffalo doesn't need to find out anything.  They need to be perfect or at least post a flawless record on their last road trip of the season. 

To earn a shot at Lord Stanley's Cup, the Sabres need to win their three remaining games starting with their match-up with the Toronto Maple Leafs this Tuesday in the Air Canada Centre (7:30 p.m., MSG).   Then it's off to Montreal on Thursday (7:30 p.m., MSG) and a return meeting with the Bruins on Saturday (7:00 p.m., MSG).

Win all three and Buffalo will have a chance - with help - at the eighth and final playoff spot.

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Sunday night marked the final time during the 2007-08 regular season that the Buffalo Sabres will skate in the comforts of HSBC Arena and they will leave on the high note of Sunday's dramatic win. 

In 41 games, Buffalo posted a 20-15-6 record, extending their streak to three consecutive 20+ win seasons in the "Queen City."

"It sends a good message to the fans that have been there all year," said captain Jason Pominville of the win..  "We need them and we need them throughout this run.  Playing here is amazing and they've been here for us the whole time."

The fans at HSBC Arena were celebrated by a pre-game ceremony.

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