BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller finally got the bounces, allowing the Sabres to rebound in their first-round playoff series.
The rookie stopped 24 shots to record his first playoff shutout in a 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday, giving the Sabres a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference matchup.
In the process, Miller shook off his doubters and his own frustrations after allowing several questionable goals and watching others bank in off teammates in losing his last two games at Philadelphia.
Things changed Sunday in a big way when Miller made two stops off shots that were deflected by his own players. The best save came in the final minutes of the second period when Petr Nedved's shot from in close glanced off Buffalo defenseman Teppo Numminen's skate. Miller followed the puck and got the shaft of his stick out to make the stop and then watched the puck glance off the post and wide.
"It's like, `There we go.' I definitely got some bounces. I was waiting for them," Miller said. "It's a pretty quick turnaround from the low to high for me."
The same can be said for the Sabres, who played with much more confidence and determination in a series in which neither team has lost at home.
"Today was as good of a game that we've put together," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.
Tim Connolly and J.P. Dumont scored power-play goals and had an assist each for Buffalo. Maxim Afinogenov also scored while Daniel Briere had two assists.
Game 6 is Tuesday at Philadelphia.
Now it's up to the Flyers to regain the momentum in a series that's featured several swings, big body checks and both coaches trading angry words.
"There's no Xs and Os that we'll be speaking about in the next 48 hours," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We know how we got beat today. Every player in that locker room knows how we got beat. We'll be a lot better in Game 6."
Peter Forsberg, who had four goals and four assists in four games, was held without a point for the first time. He and linemates Simon Gagne and Mike Knuble were blanked on a combined seven shots on net.
"There was no offense," Forsberg said. "We had nothing. We got outplayed again."
Connolly opened the scoring 6 minutes in, capping a breathtaking effort. Carrying the puck up the middle from his own blue line, Connolly drove all the way to the Flyers net against a defense that inexplicably kept backing up.
Connolly avoided Sami Kapanen's poke check and snapped a shot from the slot, beating Robert Esche on the glove side.
The Sabres have opened the scoring in all five games of the series but had trouble maintaining the lead in the last two games, including squandering a 2-0 advantage Friday.
Dumont made it 2-0, converting Briere's pass through the crease, in the final minute of the second period. Afinogenov then sealed it, set up by Briere in front, four minutes into the third period.
"What we did really well was after we got the lead, we kept coming at them," Briere said. "We didn't just try to hold onto it and that's very encouraging."
Hitchcock gave the Sabres and Miller full credit.
"Overall, this is the best game they've played in the series," Hitchcock said. "They were very tenacious."
As for Miller, Hitchcock said: "He's a battler. He struggled in Philadelphia and he came back and answered the bell."
The key to Miller was forgiving himself and forgetting the last two games, especially in allowing R.J. Umberger to sneak in a shot from the right circle for the go-ahead, third-period goal of Philadelphia's 5-4 win in Game 4 on Friday.
"I wasn't really looking at this game to be a shutout," Miller said. "A little bit of forgiveness was the big thing on my mind, the ability to forgive myself for a situation I thought we shouldn't have been in."
Notes: Miller became the third Sabres rookie to record a playoff shutout and first since Steve Shields in a 3-0 win over Ottawa on April 27, 1997. ... The Forsberg-Gagne-Knuble line has combined for eight goals and eight assists in the series. The rest of the Flyers have five goals and 10 assists. ... Numminen returned after a racing heart condition that developed in Game 3 and prevented him from playing in Game 4. ... Connolly was forced to wear a visor after he was cut on the nose during the warmup, struck by teammate Paul Gaustad's shot.
Other games on April 30, 2006