|On Monday, Drew Miller scored his second game-winner of the season against the Edmonton Oilers. (Photo by Getty Images) |
– Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller predicted earlier this month that his younger brother would finally capitalize on his chances with the Red Wings, saying, “I think maybe some other people who watch hockey will be surprised when he starts getting some points here and starts settling into his role.”
And that’s exactly what Drew Miller
has done lately, collecting his fourth goal in five games with the game-winner (WATCH GOAL)
in the Wings’ 3-2 victory Monday night against the Oilers at Rexall Place.
“He’s seen me play from a young age and I think he wants me to take a few more chances, which hopefully with a little more experience I can take some more,” said Drew Miller
when asked about his brother’s comments. “You want to establish that role and stick around a little before you start taking those chances.”
With less than four-minutes remaining in regulation Monday, Miller put the Wings up for good with his sixth goal of the season. With the Wings’ third line pressing deep in the offensive zone, Miller re-directed a shot from the left point by defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom
. The re-direction, on Miller’s back-hand, went through Danny Cleary
’s legs and beat Oilers goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, who was screened by the Wings’ forward. Center Darren Helm
also drew an assist on the game-winner.
“I usually come around to the front of the net, but I saw that Cleary went there so I went for the high slot and I got my stick on it,” Miller said. “Sometimes you get a lucky bounce.”
Miller now has seven career game-winners, including two this season. His winning goal on Nov. 11 came against the Oilers in a 3-0 win at Joe Louis Arena.
Lidstrom said of Monday’s winning tally, “Helmer held it in their left corner, throwing it up to the point. I'm just looking for sticks when I'm shooting. It's hard to get it on net. There's guys in the shooting lanes, so you're looking for a tip and Millsie was showing me his stick so I tried to get that right in front of him.”
The Wings have had incredible contribution lately from the third line of Miller, Cleary and Helm, who accounted for two more goals Monday. Cleary's eighth of the season gave the Wings a 1-0 lead early in the first period (WATCH GOAL)
. And since Nov. 19 – when the Wings claimed a 4-1 win at Los Angeles – the third and fourth line guys have accounted for 20 goals in the last 15 games.
“Helm's line with Cleary and Miller were our best line by far,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said.
Miller has definitely made the most of his chances lately – especially with injuries to Jan Mursak
(fractured left ankle), Patrick Eaves
(fractured jaw) and Chris Conner
(broken left hand) – increasing his ice-time by roughly three-minutes per game to 12-minutes over the last five games.
“I always hoped that at every level you get better and I played a little more offensive in the AHL,” Miller said, “but sometimes it doesn’t always transition to the NHL depending on the role you’re in.
“Tonight, we found a way to win on the road, but we probably won’t be as happy with some of the parts of that game, but anytime you can get a win on the road it’s big, and definitely to start off a road trip.”
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill