Flyers hope to solve Miller, tie series with Sabres
SABRES AT FLYERS
(Buffalo leads best-of-seven series, 1-0)
TV: TSN, MSG-B (HD), CSN-PH (HD)
Big story: The Sabres got the only goal in Game 1 when Patrick Kaleta knocked a rebound past the Flyers' Sergei Bobrovsky. Philadelphia generated enough offense, putting 35 shots on net, but goalie Ryan Miller stopped every one of them.
Sabres: Buffalo relies on goalie Ryan Miller to play well and win them games when the rest of the team isn't playing its best. But on Thursday, Miller said being able to rely on the defense in front of him was a big reason he was able to register his second-ever playoff shutout.
"I knew I was going to get help around me," Miller said following Thursday's game. "We've been doing a great job the last few months of collapsing down and covering back-side plays. I could really wait and make my reads. Especially in the second period, I think there were two instances where I really trusted the back-side coverage by our guys and they came through for me. So I was able to feel like I could commit to the shot lane and squaring up, and they were battling around me."
They battled well enough to block 16 shots in Game 1.
"It's desperation," forward Nathan Gerbe told NHL.com Thursday. "This time of year everyone's going to do it. Doesn't matter who it is, everyone's going to be desperate to block a shot or make hits or do anything to help out."
Flyers: It's not that Philadelphia didn't have chances in Game 1. It's that they didn't make the most of them, and a big part of that was their power play going 0-for-5.
"It needs to start winning us some hockey games," forward Scott Hartnell said. "Second period, the 5-on-3, a couple other times -- we've got to do a better job getting in the zone, getting set up. One time (Buffalo's Paul) Gaustad lost his stick, we had a couple great chances, just weren't getting them through to the net."
Defenseman Kimmo Timonen said the key to improving things starts at the top.
"You can tweak a little bit there," said Timonen, whose shot from the point was the only one the Flyers registered on their two-man advantage. "We can do better. We can shoot the puck more and get to the net. That's, I think, key for any power play. If you want to make your power play better, it has to start form the top and that's what we have to do (Saturday)."
Who's hot: Miller was strong in Game 1, but the line of Gaustad, Gerbe and Kaleta was the Sabres' best in the playoff opener. The trio combined for six shots -- including Kaleta's goal -- eight hits, two blocked shots and two takeaways. … Despite suffering the loss, the rookie Bobrovsky acquitted himself well in his first Stanley Cup Playoff game, stopping 24 of 25 shots.
Injury report: Sabres defenseman Shaone Morrisonn did not practice Friday and coach Lindy Ruff would not elaborate why. Fellow defenseman Jordan Leopold is out with a broken left hand. … Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger (hand) skated on his own Friday morning, and the club lists him as day-to-day and a game-time decision for Game 2.
Stat pack: Thursday's shutout defeat was the first time the Flyers were blanked in a playoff game since Game 5 of the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals, when Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 21 shots in a 6-0 win that ended the Flyers' season.
Puck drop: The Sabres know Ryan Miller can win games for them, but they know they can't just rely on their star netminder to carry them singlehandedly to a Stanley Cup.
"I don't think we need him to be the best player on the ice; we need him to be what he's been for us all year, which is solid back there," forward Mike Grier told NHL.com. "He gives us confidence, but I think we feel like we can play better and we can be better with the puck, better offensively. If we do that, then we won't need (Miller) to stand on his head every night."