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Canucks to start Miller in Game 5 against Flames

by Kevin Woodley /

VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks are turning back to veteran goaltender Ryan Miller with their season on the line.

Coach Willie Desjardins announced that Miller will start Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round series against the Calgary Flames on Thursday at Rogers Arena (10 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

Miller, who has started one game since spraining his right knee Feb. 22, replaced Eddie Lack after the first period of a 3-1 loss in Game 4 that left the Canucks trailing the Flames 3-1 in the best-of-7 series.

"Performance is No.1," Desjardins said of his decision to start Miller. "I think he's been in big games before, but the biggest thing is how he played in Calgary. I thought he looked real sharp in Calgary."

Desjardins cited Miller's 54 games of Stanley Cup Playoff experience as a factor.

Miller said after practice Wednesday that his knee won't to be 100 percent again this season, but after struggling in the regular-season finale on April 11, Miller looked calm and in control in Game 4, making saves on all 15 shots he faced over the final two periods.

"He was really clean the last two periods and out of that I think he deserves the chance," Desjardins said. "We were pressing so we gave up some clear-cut chances, and he was really clean on a quite a few of his saves and he looked calm in net too."

Miller didn't look like he expected to play in this series. He was still wearing a new set of pads he has been breaking in when the first period ended in Game 4, but changed into his game pads to make his playoff debut with Vancouver in the second period.

The 34-year-old goalie said he can make up for not being 100 percent physically by playing a smart game.

"I know I can bring a lot with my approach and try to be efficient and contribute to managing our zone," said Miller, who does not talk to the media on game days. "I don't think it's something where physically it's going to be there this year, but you can make up for that kind of stuff with your approach and mentality. So in my case it's going to be about battling, competing, and kind of willing the puck out of the net."

Miller signed a three-year contract last summer to be the Canucks' new No.1 goalie, but Lack went 12-6-1 with a .927 save percentage over the final two months of the regular season to help Vancouver earn second place in the Pacific Division and home-ice advantage to start the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Lack played well in his postseason debut and won Game 2, but after getting beaten by two good power-play chances on four shots in Game 4, he got caught overplaying his angle on the third Calgary goal.

Lack was 18-13-4 with a .921 save percentage in the regular season; Miller was 29-15-1 with a .911 save percentage.

Captain Henrik Sedin has faith in Miller, and thinks the Canucks can feed off the veteran goalie's return to the crease.

"He's a world-class goalie," Sedin said. "Whenever you get a chance to get some changes and some different looks for the other team, it's always good in a series. I have been in a series before where you have injured guys coming back in and all of a sudden, there's a different look and a belief that comes in."

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