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Miller Backstops Sabres Win

by Brian Wheeler / Buffalo Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres offense has been a goaltender's worst nightmare over the past two weeks, scoring 31 goals in the team's last five games. But it was goaltender Ryan Miller's performance in Buffalo's 3-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs that may make opposing teams lose sleep.

Showcasing their firepower of late, it was Miller who negated Toronto's attack and proved the Sabres can hold a late lead. The 26-year-old netminder stopped 26-of-27 shots as Buffalo improved to 4-2-0 against their bitter Northeast Division rivals this season.

"They had their chances and we had ours," said Toni Lydman. "It's thanks to Mr. Miller making huge saves for us again [that Buffalo won]."

"Our goalie made some timely saves," said head coach Lindy Ruff. "You need that. You need key saves at key times, and you need key goals at key times."

Miller held Toronto without a goal for nearly 57 minutes before being beaten by Nik Antropov at 16:50 of the third. He's 6-1-1 in his past eight starts and is boasting a three-game winning streak.

"He's been playing solid for us all season long," Lydman said. "It gives you confidence to have a guy that makes the saves for you all night, every night."

Toronto and Buffalo will finish the season series with a home-and-home in late March that could have serious implications on the Leafs playoff status.

Toronto limited the Sabres opportunities with a conservative style in the first period but the Buffalo attack broke through in the second as the two teams traded chances.

"You look at the second period, we had seven or eight really good opportunities that we missed," said Ruff.

Jean-Sebastien Aubin made three consecutive saves before being beaten by a long, point shot from Lydman at 4:52 of the second to give Buffalo the 1-0 lead.

A defensive defenseman, Lydman is in the midst of a rare scoring spurt. The goal is his second of the season - first since Dec. 21 at Nashville - and extends his points scoring streak to three games (1+3).

"I knew it hit something," joked Lydman. "One of there guys, one of our guys, it didn't matter. I don't get that too often as you may have noticed.

"I get chances to score a lot. I just don’t goals a lot."

Rookie Mark Mancari, who replaced injured enforcer Andrew Peters (upper body), registered his first career point with the second assist on his first shift of the game.

The NHL's highest scoring team during the second period, the tally gave Buffalo their 100th score during the middle frame this season.

Fourth time was a charm as Buffalo increased its lead to a pair on the power play after failing to score on their first three.

Brian Campbell spotted Drew Stafford curling around the net and hit the rookie with a perfect pass for the deflection, giving Buffalo the 2-0 lead with two minutes remaining in the second.

The power-play goal is Stafford's sixth of the season and third in as many games. Stafford is currently in the midst of a three game scoring streak (3+1) and has nine points (3+6) in seven games since being recalled from Rochester on Feb. 16.

"I wouldn't want to get ahead of myself," said Ruff concerning whether or not Stafford will stay in Buffalo from now on. "He's definitely made a case for staying in the NHL. He's played very soundly, been very reliable, and has had some timely goals."

"With the bigger opportunity, he's been able to flourish."

The second assist gave Jochen Hecht eight points (2+6) in his last four games.

Daniel Briere fed Nathan Paetsch cutting down the slot, where the defenseman scored his first career goal with a slapshot to make the score 3-0 at 16:18 of the third.
Quotes and audio courtesy of WGR 550-AM, the official radio partner of the Buffalo Sabres.
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