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Montreal at Buffalo

Miller plays solid in net as Sabres beat Canadiens

CBSSports.com wire reports
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller thinks it's premature to start talking about the playoff race with two months left in the NHL season.

Doesn't mean he doesn't deserve the credit for firmly putting his team in the postseason picture at this juncture.

Despite having his shutout string end at nearly 160 minutes, Miller was the difference, making 35 saves in a 3-2 win over Northeast Division rival Montreal Canadiens on Friday.

In winning their fifth straight home game and improving to 7-3 over their past 10, the Sabres, with 61 points, moved into a tie with idle Philadelphia for sixth place in the Eastern Conference, and within three points of Montreal.

"We're getting there," Miller said. "I'm not going to start looking at it too much. We're happy with the two points."

And the Sabres are more than happy with the way Miller's playing.

"Ryan kept us in the game," defenseman Jaroslav Spacek said. "It should've been two or three-nothing, and it would be tough to come back against a team like the Canadiens. ... Every night, he gives us a chance."

Miller improved to 11-3 in his past 14 games, a stretch in which he's allowed two or fewer goals 10 times -- including a 2-0 shutout at Phoenix on Saturday, followed by a 5-0 win against Toronto on Wednesday night. His shutout string ended at 157:13 when Saku Koivu tied the game at 1 midway through the second period.

Spacek, in his first game back after missing two because of a hip injury, Nathan Paetsch and Tim Connolly scored for the Sabres.

Roman Hamrlik, who roofed a snap shot from the slot with 3:26 left, also scored for Montreal, which fell to 2-6 in its past eight and lost its fifth straight road game -- its longest streak since Feb. 24-March 8 2007.

"Obviously, it's not an easy situation for our club," Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said. "We didn't capitalize on the chances we had, and they did."

The Sabres did make the most of their bounces.

Spacek opened the scoring in the first minute of the second period when he slapped a shot from inside the blue line that appeared to handcuff Montreal goalie Carey Price. That was nothing compared to the lucky break that led to Connolly's goal, which give the Sabres a 3-1 lead 4:55 into the third period.

Montreal defenseman Mike Komisarek attempted to swing a pass behind his own net only to have the puck take a strange carom and bounce directly in front, where Connolly backhanded it in past Price.

In the meantime, Miller was at his best at the other end.

He stopped all 15 shots he faced in the first period, including robbing Max Pacioretty, who got in behind the goalie only to have Miller reach back and snag the shot out of the air. In the second period, Miller did the splits, getting his left pad out to get a piece of Andrei Kostitsyn's hard shot from the slot.

And in the third, Miller got his left pad out again to foil Andrei Markov's blast from the left circle with 4:15 left.

"You need your goalie to play well, and he did that," coach Lindy Ruff said. "He has played very well. There's no secret there."

The Canadiens were left frustrated following a game in which they carried most of the play.

"It's getting annoying going into the third period down. Every time it seems like playing catch-up," forward Chris Higgins said. "We need to get aggressive."

Notes

  • Paetsch, normally a defenseman, was bumped up to forward with Spacek returning to the lineup.
  • Montreal's Mathieu Dandenault has been cleared to play after missing 24 games with a broken arm, but was a healthy scratch against Buffalo. He's expected to play Saturday, when the Canadiens host Toronto.
  • Miller's previous best shutout streak was 149:12, set earlier this season.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Ryan Miller gives up a goal after two-plus games, but still stops 35 to rack up another win. (Getty Images)
Ryan Miller gives up a goal after two-plus games, but still stops 35 to rack up another win. (Getty Images)

Related Links
 
Scoreboard
Montreal (29-17-6)0112
Buffalo  (28-20-5) «0213
Three Stars
R. Miller
BUF


Saves: 35
Save Pct.: .946
T. Connolly
BUF


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0
M. Lapierre
MON


Goals: 0
Assist(s): 1
Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
None
2ND PERIOD
27.0Jaroslav Spacek (3), Slap Shot. Assist: Hecht, Kaleta
10:21Power Play - Saku Koivu (9), Wrist Shot. Assist: Pacioretty, Gorges
12:16Nathan Paetsch (2), Snap Shot. Assist: Mair, Ellis
3RD PERIOD
04:55Tim Connolly (11), Backhand Shot, Unassisted.
16:34Roman Hamrlik (4), Wrist Shot. Assist: Kostitsyn, Lapierre
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
03:59MacArthur, 2 min, Roughing
03:59Koivu, 2 min, Roughing
13:41Bouillon, 2 min, Roughing
2ND PERIOD
01:24Higgins, 2 min, Hooking
09:28Mair, 2 min, Tripping
18:29Lydman, 2 min, High-Sticking
3RD PERIOD
06:51Rivet, 2 min, Cross-Checking
09:17Kovalev, 2 min, Hooking
18:03Kovalev, 2 min, Tripping
Shots On Goal
 123T
Montreal15111137
Buffalo512522
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Carey Price59:35193
Ryan Miller59:35352
Power Play Conversions
Power Play
Montreal1-for-3
Buffalo0-for-4
Game Information
Attendance - 18161
Referees - Rob Martell, Bill McCreary
Linesmen - David Brisebois, Brad Kovachik
 
Other Games
NYR 2 Final
Dal 10
Colu 1 Final
Pitt 4
Nash 2 Final
Min 0
NJ 5 Final
Atl 1