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No timetable for Miller's return

by Adam Kimelman
The Buffalo Sabres' attempt to hold onto a playoff spot will continue without goaltender Ryan Miller for immediate future.

Miller suffered a high left ankle sprain early in the third period of Saturday's 4-2 defeat of the New York Rangers. Miller went behind his net to play the puck when he collided with Rangers center Scott Gomez. Miller limped off the ice and was replaced by Patrick Lalime, who allowed two goals on 13 shots over the final 18:06 of the game.

Lalime will start Tuesday game against the Ducks, with Jhonas Enroth called up from Portland of the American Hockey League to serve as the backup.

Miller had a brace on his left ankle when he met with reporters Monday, but said he only needed it if he was going to be walking around.

"It's a little better," Miller told reporters. "The swelling is down (but) I didn't have a lot to begin with, which is good. It's a little achy."

Coach Lindy Ruff said there was no timetable for Miller's return.

"Ankle sprains take time," Ruff said. "You don't know how much time it's going to take."

The Sabres entered the week eighth in the Eastern Conference playoff race, but just one point ahead of ninth-place Carolina and four ahead of No. 10 Pittsburgh. The Sabres play in Carolina on Thursday, the start of a two-game road trip.

Miller is 29-16-5 with a 2.50 goals-against average and five shutouts, and he's played 51 of the Sabres' first 60 games. That's left little time for Lalime to find a rhythm, but Ruff said he expects Lalime to get into a groove quickly.

"We have a lot of trust that he's going to play well for us. And he has a lot trust the team will play well in front of him."
-- Sabres coach Lindy Ruff discussing backup goaltender, Patrick Lalime

"The expectations are that he's going to play well for us," said Ruff. "He played well last year with a workload, he played well through training camp with a workload. I said a month ago, it's tough being a backup, its tough stepping in every sixth or seventh game. Patty knows now he's playing. We have a lot of trust that he's going to play well for us. And he has a lot trust the team will play well in front of him."

In 13 games, Lalime is 2-7-1 with a 3.17 GAA. In 410 games with the Penguins, Senators, Blues, Blackhawks and Sabres, the 10-year veteran has 193 wins and a 2.55 GAA.

"You just take it one day at a time," said Lalime. "We had some good practices. The rhythm comes and you go with what's in front of you."

Lalime found himself in a similar situation last season when he backed up Nikolai Khabibulin in Chicago. Knee and back injuries gave Lalime the opportunity to play in 14 of his 32 games between Feb. 6 and March 16. In that span, he went 7-6-1 with a 3.42 GAA.

"That's what we play hockey for," Lalime said, "to be out there. I'll take it one day at a time and enjoy it."

Contact Adam Kimelman at
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