The Philadelphia Flyers KO'd Miller with three quick goals, then held on behind 29 saves by Ilya Bryzgalov to beat the struggling Sabres 3-2 on Wednesday night in the first meeting between the teams since the Flyers won Game 7 of their first-round playoff series last spring.
The Sabres fell to 1-4-0 this season in Buffalo, where Miller has yet to win a game this season. He's lost four in a row overall and has a 3.91 goals-against average during the slide.
"I'd like to make a save and help the team out," he said.
Miller's problems were apparent from the start. Sean Couturier opened the scoring just 1:43 after the opening faceoff by hammering home a juicy rebound after Miller stopped Andreas Lilja's shot.
James van Riemsdyk made it 2-0 just 13 seconds later when he snapped home a high shot from near the middle of the left circle -- the first time Miller has ever allowed two goals before two minutes of a game had elapsed. Scott Hartnell then ended the All-Star goaltender's night with a 20-foot blast from the left circle past Miller's shoulder.
“I was fighting position on the first one; I couldn’t quite get where I needed to be, couldn’t get recovered with the traffic,” Miller said. “After that it was two high glove shots. Good shots, but at the same time they were cross body from that side. I’d like to be better and have that.”
The worst part for the Sabres, according to captain Jason Pominville, was that the Sabres had stressed the need for a fast start.
"The frustrating part is that we talked about it the last few days," he said, "then went out there and did it again."
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Hartnell's goal continued a hot streak in which he has five goals and 10 points in five games.
"That first five minutes was some of the best hockey we've played so far," Hartnell said. "We were fast, we were hitting, we were getting loose pucks."
Rookie Jhonas Enroth relieved Miller and stopped all 15 shots he faced, giving the Sabres a chance to make a comeback. They almost succeeded, only to be denied by Bryzgalov.
Andrej Sekera got the Sabres on the board at 7:49 of the second period when his slap shot from the blue line ricocheted off the end boards before banking off Bryzgalov's pads and into the net for his first of the season. However, he stopped Buffalo's other 14 shots during a period in which the Sabres outshot the Flyers 15-5.
"Everyone battled hard and we were rewarded with two points," Bryzgalov said. "It was a really tough game for us. We played very good in the first period, but then in the second period we turned over the puck and got some penalties."
The Sabres got a gift goal to climb within 3-2 with 11:31 remaining when rookie Luke Adam's pass out from behind the goal line deflected off defenseman Kimmo Timonen's stick and through Bryzgalov's legs into the net.
"They turned up the heat in the second period and the third period," Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette said. "There were some tough bounces on those goals, but that's the way it's been going so far."
But Bryzgalov saved the day when he made a pair of terrific stops on Tomas Vanek, Buffalo's leading scorer, in the final; 16 seconds to preserve the Flyers second straight win after a slump that saw them drop four of five -- including last Thursday's 9-8 debacle against Winnipeg.
"You know, I just try and stop the puck," he said.
The Flyers played without center Danny Briere for the second straight game because of an upper-body injury. Rookie Matt Read also missed the game with an upper-body injury.
Vanek missed about 20 minutes after leaving midway through the second period. He skated to the dressing room after a scrum in front of the Flyers net while Buffalo was on a power play, but returned with 12 minutes to go in the third and assisted on Adam's goal during his first shift back.
Material from national and team media and wire services was used in this report
James van Riemsdyk
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James van Riemsdyk
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