Atlanta at Buffalo

Miller leads Sabres in shutout, first victory of season

CBSSports.com wire reports
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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."

Derek Roy, Ales Kotalik and Daniel Paille added a goal and an assist each, and Jason Pominville also scored for the Sabres.

Atlanta goalie Kari Lehtonen finished with 15 saves before being lifted for Johan Hedberg to start the third period. Hedberg made seven saves.

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."

Notes

  • Before the game, the Thrashers recalled forward Darren Haydar from Chicago of the AHL.
  • Buffalo entered the night having played the fewest games in the league.
  • The Sabres began a four-game homestand.
  • Atlanta is in the midst of playing 10 of its first 14 games on the road.
  • Since arriving in the league in 1970, the Sabres have never opened a season with three consecutive losses.
Copyright 2017 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.
 
Playing with a heavy heart after the death of his cousin, Ryan Miller raises his stick in his honor. (AP)
Playing with a heavy heart after the death of his cousin, Ryan Miller raises his stick in his honor. (AP)
Scoreboard
Atlanta (0-3-0)0000
Buffalo  (1-2-0) «3216
Three Stars
T. Connolly
BUF


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 2
B. Campbell
BUF


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 2
R. Miller
BUF


Saves: 20
Save Pct.: 1.000

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Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
03:00Power Play - Ales Kotalik (1), Wrist Shot. Assist: Tim Connolly, Brian Campbell
11:01Power Play - Tim Connolly (1), Slap Shot. Assist: Brian Campbell, Ales Kotalik
12:07Power Play - Brian Campbell (1), Slap Shot. Assist: Tim Connolly, Jaroslav Spacek
2ND PERIOD
12:31Short - Jason Pominville (1), Wrist Shot. Assist: Derek Roy
19:57Derek Roy (2), Wrist Shot. Assist: Michael Ryan, Daniel Paille
3RD PERIOD
19:33Daniel Paille (1), Wrist Shot. Assist: Adam Mair, Michael Ryan
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
01:12Lehtonen, 2 min, Delay of Game
07:01Gaustad, 2 min, Interference
07:27Connolly, 2 min, Tripping
10:15Dupuis, 2 min, Holding
11:01Slater, 2 min, Slashing
13:59Lydman, 2 min, High sticking
16:49Holik, 2 min, Roughing
16:49Gaustad, 2 min, Roughing
19:57Sterling, 2 min, Tripping
2ND PERIOD
02:30Popovic, 2 min, Tripping
05:03Tallinder, 2 min, Holding
07:41Holik, 2 min, Interference
10:05Kovalchuk, 5 min, Fighting
10:05Stafford, 5 min, Fighting
11:12Mair, 2 min, Interference with goal tender.
14:13Afinogenov, 2 min, Holding
3RD PERIOD
02:18Kalinin, 2 min, Interference
07:38Popovic, 2 min, Slashing
13:31Afinogenov, 2 min, Interference with goal tender.
16:20Exelby, 2 min, Roughing
16:20Paille, 2 min, Roughing
16:20Exelby, 2 min, Elbowing
19:13Boulton, 5 min, Fighting
19:13Gaustad, 5 min, Fighting
19:57Mair, 2 min, Roughing
19:57Little, 2 min, Roughing
SHOTS ON GOAL
 123T
Atlanta351220
Buffalo911828
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Johan Hedberg20:0071
Kari Lehtonen39:43155
Ryan Miller59:46200
Game Information
Attendance - 18690
Referees - Chris Rooney, Marc Joannette
Linesmen - Steve Miller, Pierre Champoux
 
Other Games
Car 5 Final
Ott 3
Pho 6 Final
Nash 3
NYI 1 Final
Tor 8
NJ 0 Final
Fla 3