BUFFALO, N.Y. - Despite allowing his first goal in nearly 160 minutes, Ryan Miller stopped 35 shots in leading the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-2 victory over the Northeast Division rival Montreal Canadiens on Friday night.
Nathan Paetsch, Jaroslav Spacek and Tim Connolly, courtesy of a fortunate bounce, scored in helping Buffalo win its fifth straight home game - it's best streak since the end of the 2006-07 season. The Sabres, with 61 points, moved into a tie with idle Philadelphia for sixth place in the Eastern Conference, and within three of Montreal.
Saku Koivu and Roman Hamrlik scored for Montreal, which fell to 2-6 in its past eight and lost its fifth straight road game - its longest streak since Feb. 24-March 8 2007.
Miller was otherwise the difference in the game in which Koivu's goal midway through the second period ended the goalie's career-best shutout streak at 157 minutes, 13 seconds.
He stopped all 15 shots he faced in the first period, including robbing Max Pacioretty, who got in behind the goalie only to have Miller reach back and snag the shot out of the air. Miller was also sharp in the third, kicking out his left pad to foil Andrei Markov's blast from the left circle with 4:15 left.
Koivu beat Miller by walking out alone in front after stripping defender Chris Butler of the puck in the corner. While Miller had no chance when Hamrlik snapped a riser from the slot that sneaked in just under the crossbar with 3:26 remaining.
Miller improved to 11-3 in his past 14 games, a stretch in which he's allowed two or fewer goals 10 times - including a 2-0 shutout at Phoenix on Saturday, followed by a 5-0 win against Toronto on Wednesday night.
Paetsch, normally a defenceman, was bumped up to forward with Spacek returning to the lineup after missing two games with a hip injury. As it turned out, both got on the scoresheet.
Spacek opened the scoring in the opening minute of the second period by blasting in a shot from just inside the blue-line that handcuffed Carey Price.
Paetsch put the Sabres ahead for good at the 12:16 mark of the second period - and less than two minutes after Koivu scored - when he was set up in front by Adam Mair, who did solid job in controlling the puck behind the Montreal net.
Connolly, with his ninth goal in nine games, sealed the win five minutes into the third period. That's when Montreal defenceman Michael Komisarek attempted to swing a pass behind his own net only to have the puck take a strange carom and bounce directly in front, where Connolly backhanded it in past Price.
Notes: Sabres C Jochen Hecht returned after missing two games with an upper body injury. C Paul Gaustad is out indefinitely after sustaining an upper body injury in a 5-0 win over Toronto on Wednesday. ... Canadiens' Mathieu Dandenault has been cleared to play after missing 24 games with a broken arm, but was a healthy scratch against Buffalo. He's expected to play Saturday, when the Canadiens host Toronto. ... Miller's previous best shutout streak was 149:12 set earlier this season.