Game 64: Ryan Miller. Goaltender.

The title pretty much says it all. Miller played out of his mind again and earned a shutout to give him back-to-back shutouts on the road as the Sabres defeated the Sharks, 1-0.

 

1st Period: San Jose was getting some good pressure early on. Ryane Clowe had a great scoring chance in close, but Miller made a great save to keep the game scoreless. The same sloppy play that fans saw in the 3rd period against Anaheim carried over during the first few minutes. A nice shift by the Ennis-Hodgson-Stafford line just under five minutes in help stop the bleeding a bit, but no goals were scored. On the line’s very next shift, Ennis and Hodgson had a 2-on-1. The pass from Ennis that was intended for Hodgson got broken up though. It took a little while, but it seemed like the Sabres had finally found their legs as a team about nine minutes in. The sloppiness was still there.

They caught a little break though after Jeese Winchester threw an elbow at Ehrhoff after the whistle had gone in front of the Sabres’ goal to give them their first power play. Much like their play at even-strength, Buffalo’s power play looked disorganized and ineffective. After the power play chance, both teams didn’t do much of anything until a turnover by the Sharks with about a minute left in the period. Ennis took the puck away, skated into the Sharks’ zone, and made a drop-pass to Stafford who blew the puck past Antti Niemi with the one-timer. The 1-0 lead would stand up for the rest of the 1st. It was pretty encouraging to see them get a lead on the road, despite not really playing that well.

 

2nd Period: Much like the 1st period, Ryane Clowe got a really good scoring chance early on, but once again, Miller made a big save to keep the Sharks from tying the game. Around the 17-minute mark, Sekera led a rush and made a nice pass to Boyes who made a great feed to Ellis for a quality shot that almost got Buffalo their 2nd goal of the game. It was nice to see the Sabres not resting on their laurels and attacking with lead. They were carrying play for the 1st half of the period.

Hodgson created another scoring chance for Buffalo by making room for Ehrhoff to take a few steps in and shoot, but he missed the net with his shot. Daniel Winnik took a high-sticking penalty against Regehr with about nine minutes left in the 2nd to give the Sabres their 2nd power play opportunity. Their movement on this power play chance was a little better, but overall, they were still very ineffective. Leino would get called for holding Brett Burns with just over two-minutes left in the period. During that sequence, Marleau would throw a check on Regehr which apparently hurt him. The Sabres killed off the penalty though and only gave up one real scoring chance. The remaining seconds would melt away without any score, so it remained 1-0 Sabres heading into the final period.

 

3rd Period: Regehr did not return to the bench for the 3rd period. In the first minute of play, Hodgson generated a nice chance for Buffalo by holding onto the puck and being patient until he found Stafford in front of the net. He couldn’t get good wood on the shot though. Marc-Eduaurd Vlasic hit the post on a pretty innocent shot about 3:30 into the period. Joe Thornton almost hooked up with Joe Pavelski for a goal. Miller made yet another awesome save on Pavelski while failing on his back to keep it 1-0. San Jose followed that up with a frenzy, but were turned away several different times by Hasek…err I mean Miller.

At this point, Buffalo was getting completely dominated and Myers didn’t help things by taking a cross-checking penalty at the 11:25 mark of the 3rd. The Sabres did a nice job killing off the penalty. Ryane Clowe shoved Kaleta into Miller who didn’t get up initially, but was apparently ok to keep going with about 7:30 left in the game. Hodgson and Ennis hooked up on a give-and-go to give Buffalo their first decent scoring opportunity in the last 15 minutes. Unfortunately, Ennis fired the shot wide. Kaleta drew a high-sticking call while carrying the puck into the Sharks zone to give Buffalo a break and put them on the power play. Perhaps not too surprisingly, San Jose actually had better scoring chances on the penalty kill. No goals were scored by either team during that sequence. Antti Niemi got pulled for the extra attacker with a minute left, but to no avail. Back-to-back shutouts folks…

 

Quick-hit time:

-Ryan Miller. Enough said. You would think Enroth would get the next start though to get him some rest.

-Cody Hodgson should have had a couple of assists tonight. Both Stafford and Ennis missed what were essentially wide-open nets. His line was by far the Sabres’ best line.

-I would guess that McNabb would get the call up for Regehr. He’s the one most comparable to his skill-set and it’s highly doubtful that Sulzer would see time right now for two reasons: He’s new and he’s not good.

-Amazing that they got two points tonight. Any point they get against Vancouver would be gravy.

-The penalty kill has stepped up in a big way in the two games since Gaustad’s departure.

 

Game Scoresheet

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