The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver are still well over a month away, but Ryan Miller looks ready to go as the U.S. goaltender.
Miller stopped all 30 shots he faced for his fifth shutout of the season, tying him for the NHL lead, and Tim Connolly's second-period goal proved to be enough offense as the Buffalo Sabres edged the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 on Sunday for their fourth straight win.
The Northeast Division leaders moved into second place in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of idle Washington.
''That was a pretty solid effort,'' Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. ''It was maybe a little sluggish the first 10 minutes, but after that I liked our compete, I liked our battle. I thought we made it really tough on them to get high-quality opportunities.''
After leading Buffalo to a 4-3 overtime win against Atlanta hours after the official announcement of the U.S. roster was made following the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on New Year's Day, Miller was flawless in front of the usual capacity crowd at the Bell Centre.
He made 10 saves in each period, including several big stops during a series of wild scrambles in front after Montreal pulled Carey Price in the final minute. Mike Cammalleri had a golden opportunity that Miller stopped with just over 12 seconds left.
''He just gets lost out there,'' Miller said. ''I just kind of knew somebody was there for a shot -- it was probably him. I saw him disappear while the puck was on the other side there and cycled up to the top.''
''I think if Cammalleri had it back again he'd like to shoot it at a different spot, but Ryan read it and got to the middle of the net,'' Ruff said.
Price was stellar for the Canadiens, finishing with 29 saves, but the Sabres broke through during a second period in which they took 16 shots on goal.
Jason Pominville skated down the left side into the Canadiens' zone and threw the puck at the net. Price stopped Connolly's original tip attempt, but he got his stick on the puck a second time and deflected it past the goalie at 6:56 for the only offense Miller would need.
''It's frustrating to lose, especially 1-0, but you've got to give those guys credit,'' Price said. ''They're a good hockey team, they've got a good goalie, they believe in their system and that's what they do to teams. You look at their goals-against-average and they're one of the lowest in the League and that's the reason why.''
The Sabres have won all 16 games they've played this season when leading after two periods.
''It's a good number and we’ll keep trying to improve on that,'' Miller said. ''We did a good job of focusing on the easy, controllable stuff. We got the puck deep tonight, that's a big improvement. It set us up for some zone time, and a lot like football, they talk about ball management, we have to manage the puck and we did a lot better at that.''
Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report.