Miller stops 43 shots as Sabres blank Ducks 2-0
Thursday, 03.01.2012 / 12:52 AMANAHEIM, Calif. – Ryan Miller
didn't let his displeasure with Buffalo's trade deadline moves affect his play.
In Buffalo's first game with newly acquired Cody Hodgson
-- and without gritty center Paul Gaustad -- Miller made 43 saves for his fourth shutout this season in a 2-0 victory against the Anaheim Ducks
on Wednesday night.
Buffalo equaled a season-best six-game points streak witha 4-0-2 run and continues its road trip Thursday in San Jose.
Miller has played a big part with wins in nine of his past 14 decisions, helping the Sabres move within five points of eighth-place Washington in the east.
"I felt pretty good," Miller said. "I've been trying to really be calm in the net and start from in the crease. It helps that we have a lot of great back pressure. Our D is able to stand some guys up. I don't feel I have to challenge the rush plays too much. When I do have to step up and attack, it's more one option that I have to commit to."
Miller said Tuesday of the trade of his friend Gaustad to Nashville, "I'm not going to lie, I'm not really happy about the way it all turned out" and that "if I had any more influence, Paul would still be here."
Then he did his part to keep the Sabres in the playoff hunt by making the most saves since he made 44 on Dec. 13 against Ottawa. He stopped 20 saves in the third period alone as the Ducks stepped up their urgency.
Miller stopped Corey Perry
on a wraparound and thwarted former Olympic teammate Bobby Ryan
with his left pad in the second period. He helped kill a third-period power play and a 6-on-5 Anaheim advantage in the end.
"I just kind of anticipated he was going to spin off," Miller said of the attempt by Ryan, a U.S. Olympic teammate of Ryan's in 2010.
"It's not like Bobby to let a puck just kind of come through his feet and just kind of tip at it. He wants to do something with it. So I just tried to be patient on that. He made a good, hard push and I tried to go with him and I got a piece of it."
Miller prevailed over Jonas Hiller
, who made 22 saves in his franchise-record tying 23rd straight start in goal.
"We've been meeting some goalies that have been pretty good," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Ryan Miller
was at his MVP best tonight."
Anaheim missed a chance to leapfrog Minnesota for 12th in the Western Conference as their margin for error dwindles. They suffered consecutive regulation losses for the first time since Dec.31-Jan.4 and fell seven points behind Dallas for the last playoff spot in the West.
"[The loss] is a bit of a heartbreaker, but this team hasn't quit in 2 1/2 months. I don't expect them to quit now," Boudreau said.
Fatigue is seeping in on the Ducks, who were gassed in the third period of Monday's loss to Colorado and took Tuesday off. They are in the middle of playing six games in nine nights.
Their inability to break through against Miller boiled over into several fighting majors in the final minute, including captain Ryan Getzlaf
taking on Mike Weber
and Hart Trophy winner Perry going against Robyn Regehr
"I got cross-checked in the face and I didn't want to take that at the end of the game," Getzlaf said. "That was the situation that it was."
Hodgson centered the second line with Tyler Ennis
and Drew Stafford
and played on the second power-play unit. He broke in on Hiller late in the second but Hiller made the save.
Hodgson and Ennis played on Canada's 2009 World Junior Championship team, and Hodgson felt some chemistry.
"We had a lot of chances and we should have scored on a couple," Hodgson said. "Personally I had the 2-on-1 – Ennis made a great pass. I thought we played well.
"We have such a fast, skilled team. It's great to play with them. It felt comfortable right away."
Hodgson, who averaged 12:43 of ice time in Vancouver, logged 16:04 with four shots on goal and three hits in his Buffalo debut. He was used to playing in front of Roberto Luongo and got a good firsthand look at Miller.
"He's unreal," Hodgson said. "That was an awesome game by him. It was pretty to watch and he made a lot tight, close saves that not a lot of goalies in this league can make."
Hodgson aside, Wednesday was about Buffalo's veteran core.
made it 2-0 when he got his stick on Christian Ehrhoff
's shot just after Luca Sbisa
came sprinting out of the penalty box. It was Boyes' fourth goal of the season and first of 2012.
There was a considerable smattering of Sabres fans in attendance and Buffalo got them on their feet early with a power-play goal by Derek Roy
. Tyler Myers
' shot sprung off the end boards and Roy banged it home from a sharp angle on the left side with Perry serving a delay of game penalty.
Roy has three goals and six assists in his last seven games.
, who came over from Vancouver with Hodgson, was a healthy scratch.