First Ryan Miller
got mad. After a less-than-stellar performance against the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night - in which he allowed five goals - the netminder wasn’t happy with his, or the team’s performance at home.
Then he got even – recording his third shutout of the season on Friday night, leading the Buffalo Sabres to a 5-0 victory against the Los Angeles Kings at HSBC Arena.
“It comes to a certain point where you’re just mad enough at yourself and confident enough in your game where you can go out and play,” Miller said. “It’s an interesting spot to be. I’m just happy to get two points and move on.”
Miller was spectacular at times as he stopped all 40 shots that he faced, including several opportunities early in the game as the Kings outshot Buffalo 13-6 in the initial frame.
“Ryan looked really good. He was there for every shot and that might have been as good as he looked all year,” Head Coach Lindy Ruff said. “He made a lot of it look easy which tells you he was in the right place all night for us. We had a couple lulls and he made the difference for us.”
His 10th career shutout ties Roger Crozier amongst Buffalo netminders, ranking him fifth all-time in that category for the franchise.
“It’s been a new attitude for me in the last few days,” Miller said. “Just don’t worry about anything else but my game and what I can control… i just have to worry about stopping the puck.
“That’s what we need on a night like this.”
Pat Kaleta was unable to finish the game after being punched by King’s defenseman Denis Gauthier midway through the second period.
Ruff said the grinder is suffering from the same head/neck injury that sidelined him for seven games in December.
“Pat’s not doing well,” Ruff said. “Gauthier should be suspended for that. We don’t need that in the game. He didn’t even give Pat a choice, he just dropped his glove and suckered him. That’s something we don’t need.”
Ruff did not provide details on whether Kaleta would miss time due to injury.
Defenseman Chris Butler earned a point in his NHL debut. The 22-year-old, St. Louis native was credited with an assist on Adam Mair’s goal in the second frame. Butler was recalled by the Sabres late Thursday night.
In his first professional season for the Portland Pirates, the blueliner has 12 points (2+10) in 27 games.
“I think I’m still calming down right now,” Butler said. “A week ago I was sitting there watching these guys on TV and now I’m playing against them. Thankfully, I made a couple passes early on and maybe if I bobbled something maybe it would have thrown me a little bit, but I was happy to get things going early.”
“That’s a big step for us. It’s been awfully frustrating at home… for us and our fans. It was great to hear the Neil Diamond song again. It’s been a while since we’ve heard that.”
~Lindy Ruff on hearing Sweet Caroline, played after each home game the Sabres win.
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