Maybe Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff should watch every game from the press box.
With their coach nursing three broken ribs and watching the game from well above the ice at the First Niagara Center, Ryan Miller made 36 saves as the Sabres improved to 4-0-1 in their last five games by pummeling the Boston Bruins 6-0 on Wednesday night.
Ruff was forced off the bench after being injured when he was upended from behind by defenseman Jordan Leopold during Monday's practice. With assistant James Patrick in charge, the Sabres completely dominated their Northeast Division rivals, knocking out starting goaltender Tuukka Rask less than 22 minutes on the way to their best offensive night of the season -- they had been held to two goals or fewer in 15 of their last 20 games.
Ruff said after game that he won't be on the ice for some time -- "I can't yell and I've got to be careful that I don't get hit again" -- so he'll watch practice from bench and games from the press box.
"I'm going to be down and out for a little while," he said. "But it makes you feel better that the compete (level) was really good."
The win does go on his coaching record, however.
"James did a great job of taking the bull by the horns. I said, 'It's your bench to run.' … It's all yours to run," Ruff said.
Miller's best save came seven minutes into the game when he robbed David Krejci from in front of the net with his right pad. He also denied Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin in a span of a few seconds early in the third period.
"It was a great effort by our guys," Miller said. "The system was great, the effort was great. That's the way we need to play hockey. The battle (level) was there; the attention to detail was there."
The Bruins fell to 5-6-1 in their last 12 games and had their 11-game winning streak against division opponents come to an end. It was their worst loss since losing 8-2 to Toronto on March 6, 2008.
"It's been a while since we had a loss like this. Maybe it's the best," forward Milan Lucic said. "Maybe it's a wakeup call and shows that we need to be much better and we can't take anyone lightly no matter who they are."
Boston still leads the Northeast and is second in the Eastern Conference with 68 points; 12th-place Buffalo is nine points out of a playoff berth with 52.
"I guess we were due for a game like that," goaltender Tim Thomas said. "In the big picture, it doesn't matter if we lost 2-0 or 2-1 or 5-0 or whatever. We just have to pick ourselves up off the ground."
Christian Ehrhoff opened the scoring 6:23 into the game when his wrister from the left point sailed through traffic in front and past Rask.
The Bruins thought they had tied the game midway through the first period, but referee Rob Martell ruled that Rich Peverley interfered with Miller before Lucic's deflection went into the net.
Instead, it remained 1-0 -- until Ville Leino made a great play to set up Jason Pominville's first of two goals at 14:49. Leino drove down the left side, stopped and spun before backhanding a pass through the middle Pominville directed past Rask.
Tyler Ennis ended Rask's night at 1:52 of the second with some help from a fortunate bounce -- he drove around Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg and took a backhander that hit the right post before deflecting off Rask and into the net.
Patrick Kaleta scored late in the second period against Tim Thomas, and third-period goals by Pominville and Drew Stafford completed the rout. Miller cruised to his second shutout in his last three games.
The Sabres didn't back down against the bigger. Cody McCormick squared off with Shawn Thornton less than three minutes into the game, and Kaleta got into a scrap with Milan later in the first period.
"We're not going to back down," Pominville said. "Guys stepped in. Some of them played out of character. Everybody did different things to help us win. And that's what a team is all about."
Lucic has been targeted by the Sabres since he bowled over Miller in Buffalo's 6-2 loss at Boston on Nov. 12. Miller sustained a concussion and whiplash, and the Sabres then hit the skids. After a 10-5-0 start, the Sabres toppled out of the top eight in the East by going 9-18-5 in their next 32 games before finding their game in the past two weeks.
"I thought our guys really raised their compete level the last four or five games," Ruff said. "We've really played hard and had some things start to go well."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report
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