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Sabres beat Devils 2-0 to move closer to playoffs @NHLdotcom
Ryan Miller all but ended the New Jersey Devils' playoff hopes on Saturday night.

Miller stopped 30 shots for his fifth shutout of the season in leading the Buffalo Sabres to a 2-0 victory against New Jersey at HSBC Arena.

Nathan Gerbe and Thomas Vanek scored first-period goals to help the Sabres won their third straight and maintain their hold on eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Miller earned his 22nd career shutout and second in three games.

"Right now he's in a good zone and playing well," Gerbe said of Miller. "He knows what's on the line and he knows he's the type of goalie that can steal games. And he's definitely done that for us."

Just as important, the Sabres (38-28-9) moved five points ahead of ninth-place Carolina, and stayed two points in back of the New York Rangers, who beat Boston 1-0 earlier in the day.

"I'm happy with our progress. We're on the right path," Miller said. "But I'm not going to be happy so to speak until the job's done."

The Devils were shut out on consecutive nights -- and for the third time in five games -- following a 1-0 shootout loss at Pittsburgh on Friday. They've gone 173:55 without scoring a goal.

The 12th-place Devils have faltered, going 1-4-1 in their past six, and are in position to miss the playoffs for the first time since 1995-96. New Jersey has seven games left and has fallen 12 points back of Buffalo for the East's final playoff spot.

"They weren't ready to play," coach Jacques Lemaire said of his team. "Guys are trying. They're getting chances. They're not scoring. You can excuse it to a certain limit. Not being prepared to play, that's different."

The Sabres also were playing on consecutive days and were able to carry over their momentum from a 4-2 home win over Florida.

Gerbe, with his fifth goal in five games, opened the scoring 4:17 in. Gerbe started the play by chasing down a loose puck behind the Devils net and feeding it in front to Brad Boyes, who got a shot off. Gerbe snapped the rebound past Martin Brodeur.

Vanek scored 12 minutes later by converting a rebound in front after Brodeur stopped Jason Pominville hard low shot from the right circle.

The Sabres were thoroughly dominating the Devils at that point, outshooting them 14-3.

New Jersey finally got going only to be turned away by Miller, who was particularly sharp in stopping 10 shots in the second period.

Patrik Elias redirected a shot in front eight minutes into the period only to be stopped by Miller, who got his left pad out at the last moment. A minute later, Miller got his right arm to turn aside Travis Zajac's snap shot from the slot.

A few minutes later, David Clarkson had the puck all alone in front and eventually shot wide as Miller patiently held his ground without providing an opening.

"The last five or six games has put us into a big uphill battle, again," Elias said. "Right now, we're obviously having a tough time scoring, and you're not going to win a lot of hockey games that way."

In finishing the season series with a 3-0-1 record, Buffalo beat the Devils three times in one season for only the second time. The only time Buffalo did that was a four-game sweep in 2000-01. The Sabres' victory also eliminated the 13th-place New York Islanders from playoff contention.

The only negative for Buffalo was the news that the Sabres will be without offensive defenseman Jordan Leopold, who will miss at least the final two weeks of the season after breaking his left hand against Florida on Friday. Leopold, who leads the team's defensemen with 13 goals, will learn more about the extent of the injury -- and whether surgery is required -- after he meets with a specialist Monday.

"Every team suffers blows. We suffered one," coach Lindy Ruff said. "We need someone to step in and play well. But there's areas of the game where he's definitely going to be missed."

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report

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