UNIONDALE, NY – After the first 20 minutes, it looked like Ryan Miller would have to wait another night before making history. But the Buffalo Sabres finally settled down in front of their star goaltender, and he finished the night as the franchise’s all-time leader in wins.
Buffalo chipped away at an early two-goal deficit and survived a frantic penalty kill late in overtime, eventually defeating the New York Islanders 4-3 in a shootout before a crowd of 14,618 at the Nassau Coliseum. The Sabres are now 3-0-1 in their last four games, giving them points in four consecutive games for just the second time this season.
But the big story of the night was Miller, who posted the 235th victory of his career, surpassing Dominik Hasek as Buffalo’s all-time leader in wins.
“I’m proud of it, it’s nice. I’m proud of being a Buffalo Sabre,” stated the 31-year-old Miller. “I was really excited coming in as a young player, looking up to Dominik Hasek. To be here that long, and to play with some great teams and great players. And to play for a coaching staff and a support staff that has had my back for a number of years now, it’s nice. I get a source of pride from that.”
Lindy Ruff has coached both Miller and Hasek, and he was thrilled to be part of Miller’s accomplishment.
“Yeah, it was nice to see. He’s had a tough run, but he battled back tonight. I thought a couple of goals you probably don’t like. But I thought for him to battle back and shut them down the rest of the game, and shut down the first two shooters in the shootout and win in that fashion, it’s a great game to set the mark with.”
Buffalo fell behind 3-1 in the first period on what Ruff referred to as “three stupid mistakes.” But a goal by Derek Roy late in the second, and the tying goal by Paul Gaustad midway through the third sent the game to overtime. A too many men on the ice penalty late in the extra period by the Sabres had them scrambling, but a desperate kill by Gaustad, Robyn Regehr and Jordan Leopold turned out to be the difference.
“Leo and Robyn did a great job,” said Gaustad, who blocked two shot attempts on what turned out to be a longer shift than normal for him. “Everybody kind of knew their lanes and executed, trying to give Millsy the best chance to save the puck. That’s our job, we’ve gotta go out there and kill those things. I kept looking up at the clock, we couldn’t get out of the zone at all. It was a good effort by everybody.”
After Weber misplayed the puck behind the net, Grabner fed a wide-open Nielsen in front. (1:39) … With the Nielsen goal, Miller's shutout streak ended after 122:30 … Gerbe banked a shot off Al Montoya that fluttered into the net, after a great play by Stafford to keep the play onside. (5:32) … Bailey collected his own rebound, and flipped the puck over a sprawled Miller. (16:00) … Miller cleared the puck right to Nielsen in front, and he made no mistake with the gift. (17:17) … Sabres led 17-9 in shots; they were up 14-3 with eight minutes left in the period.
After a track meet in the first period, there was only one goal in the second ... Ville Leino dropped to Roy, and his half-swing change-up appeared to fool Montoya. Jason Pominville also picked up an assist on Roy’s 10th of the season. (18:41) … Patrick Kaleta and Matt Martin traded a series of lefts in a spirited fight just nine seconds into the period … Shots were even at 9-9, giving Buffalo a two-period lead of 26-18.
The lone goal of the third was Buffalo’s game-tying tally by Paul Gaustad … Gaustad took a feed from Tyler Myers and used some silky hands to finesse a wrister from the slot past Montoya to even the score. (11:46) … Buffalo came into the game with a record of 1-20-1 when trailing after two periods, while the Islanders were 13-1-4 when leading after two … The Sabres survived a penalty kill late in OT to send the game to a shootout … New York outshot Buffalo 9-1 in overtime, and ended up overtaking Buffalo for the overall lead 38-37.
SABRES NOTES:Brad Boyes (game-deciding goal) and Jason Pominville scored for Buffalo in the shootout … The win was Buffalo’s third in a row on the road. They last accomplished this from October 15-20 … Thomas Vanek (upper body), Zack Kassian (healthy) and Marc-Andre Gragnani (healthy) were Buffalo’s scratches … Vanek has now missed two games since being injured in Montreal on January 31 … Buffalo doesn’t play again until they host Boston on Wednesday at First Niagara Center.