NOTEBOOK: SHOW STOPPER
Friday, 01.09.2009 / 11:46 PM / Features
By Erin Pollina - Sabres.com
|Ryan Miller (Photo: Bill Wippert)|
| Game Highlights
Lindy Ruff: Audio | Video
Ryan Miller: Audio | Video
Derek Roy: Audio | Video
Ales Kotalik: Audio | Video
After denying the Rangers’ top-two scorers in Markus Naslund and Nikolai Zherdov, it was only natural that New York’s third leading goal scorer would be next in line for the shootout.
Fortunately, Miller has had some experience with the said opponent.
“I kind of figured [Chris] Drury would be one of those shooters,” Miller said of his former teammate. “I think he might have lost it just a bit. All the guys ended up having to make backhand moves, which works for me because I want to make them do something other than what they wanted to do.
“They have to make a nice move and get it up, and sometimes it’s not going to work out for them.”
Not much did as Miller stopped all three shootout attempts on the night, as well as a season-high 43 shots in a 2-1 victory on Friday night at HSBC Arena.
“I thought we got a full 65 minutes out of Ryan,” Head Coach Lindy Ruff said.
The game marks only the second time the Rangers have lost in a shootout. Entering Friday's match-up they held an 8-1 record when one-on-one.
“When there were breakdowns or turnovers, he was there for us,” Derek Roy said, who scored the lone regulation goal for Buffalo. “When we’ve needed him he’s been our rock all season long and he showed it tonight.”
Miller has been solid in shootouts, allowing only four goals on 14 attempts this year for a 3-1 record. That wasn’t always the case, however. Last season the netminder dropped seven of 11 contests after the extra frame.
“I’m just happy to help,” Miller said. “The guys work hard, do a lot. A night like this [you have to] just keep it to where we can get within striking distance. It was one of those nights and there are a lot of those in the NHL now where you just have to grind it out and be patient.”
Miller has gone undefeated in 2009, winning all four contests in the new year. In that span he has surrendered only six goals.
"I can’t say enough. The Rangers probably could have put that game away in the start of the second [period] or late in the first," Ales Kotalik said. "He just came up big for us and made key saves. That’s important. You need your goaltender to play with that kind of effort and intensity like Ryan brings.
"We just have to do the work in front of him."
“We’re just trying to keep something positive rolling here. We’ve had some really good hockey games where we’ve battled and competed,” Miller said. “Tonight it took us just a little bit longer to get going because they were playing a frustrating style. But that’s what it’s got to be some nights.
“We’ll walk out of here with two points and I’ll be happy with the way I played.”
With the win, the Sabres not only tied a season-high four-game winning streak, but they also captured consecutive wins at home for the first time since Nov. 28.
Buffalo is now 12-9-2 at HSBC Arena this season.
Tim Connolly rejoined the team after missing the last 24 games with a broken rib. The centerman logged 15:37 minutes of ice time and three shots on the night.
Ruff said while he was pleased for the most part with Connolly’s performance, he wants to continue to ease him into a full-time role.
“I don’t think Timmy was quite ready for mainstream action,” Ruff said. “I think that the game-timing and game-intensity… he has a little ways to go yet.
“He made some nice plays, but then a couple times he handled it a little too much, but you can put a lot of guys in that category tonight.”