BUFFALO, N.Y. -- After two straight losses to start the season, Ryan Miller was determined to get his slumping team in gear.
Miller made 20 saves for his fifth career shutout, Tim Connolly and Brian Campbell each had a goal and two assists and the Buffalo Sabres got their first victory of the season, 6-0 against winless Atlanta on Thursday night.
"Not that I was slacking off in the summer, but I had to really put the pedal down because we want to be an elite team," said Miller, who had allowed nine goals in Buffalo's first two defeats. "I need to be there for the guys when they need me."
Miller wasn't tested too much by a sputtering Atlanta offense that has generated only four goals in its first four games, all regulation losses. But when he needed to make a key save to help keep Buffalo's momentum going, Miller was there.
"That's the kind of attitude we need to have," he said.
It was also an emotional game for Miller, whose 18-year-old cousin died Monday after a complication with a bone-marrow transplant.
"For him to go through what he did wasn't easy," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "It was a special night for him. I wanted to see him get the shutout."
After winning the President's Trophy last season, the Sabres had gotten off to a sluggish start, dropping their first two games to the New York Islanders. They quickly got healthy against a struggling Thrashers team that is off to its worst start since dropping the first nine games of the 2002-03 season.
Buffalo scored three power-play goals in the first period, and didn't allow a shot when Atlanta had a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:34 in the first.
"Special teams are a big momentum booster," Connolly said. "Killing that two-man advantage kept us going in the right direction."
The Thrashers were without forward Marian Hossa for the second successive game. Hossa, who had team highs of 43 goals and 57 assists last season, hurt his groin during practice Monday.
"Right now we're not playing good hockey," Atlanta coach Bob Hartley said. "We're so tight and anxious to get that first win that we forget to do the right things."
The Sabres netted the game's first three goals in a 9:07 span in the first period, starting with Kotalik's power-play goal three minutes in. Making his season debut after missing the first two games with a knee injury, Kotalik shoveled the puck into an open net while standing next to the left post two feet from the goal line.
Connolly made it 2-0 with another power-play goal at 11:01. With the Sabres already enjoying a one-man advantage, Connolly scored while a delayed penalty was about to be called on the Thrashers' Jim Slater.
Campbell's power-play goal made it 3-0 only 66 seconds later when his slap shot from the right point deflected off a stick in front of Lehtonen.
Pominville increased Buffalo's lead to 4-0 with a short-handed goal with 7½ minutes left in the second period, and Roy made it 5-0 with only 2.8 seconds left in the middle frame.
Paille capped the scoring with 27 seconds left in the third.
Despite the impressive victory, Campbell thinks the Sabres can play better.
"It's one game, so we'll leave it at that," he said. "Our goal isn't just tonight. We want to get on a run here and keep going."
|Playing with a heavy heart after the death of his cousin, Ryan Miller raises his stick in his honor. (AP)|
|Buffalo (1-2-0) «||3||2||1||6|
Save Pct.: 1.000
Buffalo Sabres 2013 Wall Calendar
$1.99 Shop Now!
|03:00||Power Play - Ales Kotalik (1), Wrist Shot. Assist: Tim Connolly, Brian Campbell|
|11:01||Power Play - Tim Connolly (1), Slap Shot. Assist: Brian Campbell, Ales Kotalik|
|12:07||Power Play - Brian Campbell (1), Slap Shot. Assist: Tim Connolly, Jaroslav Spacek|
|12:31||Short - Jason Pominville (1), Wrist Shot. Assist: Derek Roy|
|19:57||Derek Roy (2), Wrist Shot. Assist: Michael Ryan, Daniel Paille|
|19:33||Daniel Paille (1), Wrist Shot. Assist: Adam Mair, Michael Ryan|
|01:12||Lehtonen, 2 min, Delay of Game|
|07:01||Gaustad, 2 min, Interference|
|07:27||Connolly, 2 min, Tripping|
|10:15||Dupuis, 2 min, Holding|
|11:01||Slater, 2 min, Slashing|
|13:59||Lydman, 2 min, High sticking|
|16:49||Holik, 2 min, Roughing|
|16:49||Gaustad, 2 min, Roughing|
|19:57||Sterling, 2 min, Tripping|
|02:30||Popovic, 2 min, Tripping|
|05:03||Tallinder, 2 min, Holding|
|07:41||Holik, 2 min, Interference|
|10:05||Kovalchuk, 5 min, Fighting|
|10:05||Stafford, 5 min, Fighting|
|11:12||Mair, 2 min, Interference with goal tender.|
|14:13||Afinogenov, 2 min, Holding|
|02:18||Kalinin, 2 min, Interference|
|07:38||Popovic, 2 min, Slashing|
|13:31||Afinogenov, 2 min, Interference with goal tender.|
|16:20||Exelby, 2 min, Roughing|
|16:20||Paille, 2 min, Roughing|
|16:20||Exelby, 2 min, Elbowing|
|19:13||Boulton, 5 min, Fighting|
|19:13||Gaustad, 5 min, Fighting|
|19:57||Mair, 2 min, Roughing|
|19:57||Little, 2 min, Roughing|
|SHOTS ON GOAL|
|Attendance - 18690|
|Referees - Chris Rooney, Marc Joannette|
|Linesmen - Steve Miller, Pierre Champoux|