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by Rob Crean / Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres extended a winning streak to three games for the first time this season with Thursday’s overtime victory over Florida, a win that also put them just two points behind eighth-place Carolina for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.  The win, which came courtesy of a blast by Tyler Myers that beat Panthers goalie Thomas Vokoun with 4.5 seconds remaining in overtime, improves the Sabres’ record over the last 17 games to 12-4-1.

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
The three-game winning streak has shown Buffalo’s ability to win various types of games.  First, they beat Toronto last Saturday by a 6-2 score in a game where Buffalo held the lead throughout and continued to build it.  On Tuesday in Tampa Bay, the Sabres rallied from a 3-1 deficit by scoring six straight goals en route to a 7-4 victory.  Then, Thursday night in Florida, they gave up a pair of one-goal leads before finishing the job in overtime.

“I think the players have been able to lock into a pretty good style,” Head Coach Lindy Ruff said of the team’s recent success.  “We’ve been able to win games different ways, which is important. You’ve got to win the tight ones, you’re going to have to win some when you have to be able to come back from behind, and when you have a lead we’re going to have to be able to protect the lead and be able to win those games.”

2/11 - Lindy Ruff Interview

Despite stringing together three wins for the first time all year and moving up in the standings, goaltender Ryan Miller said it’s important to stay focused on only the next game.  The Sabres have a tough road ahead with four games in a six-day stretch, beginning Sunday when they host the Islanders.

“We kind of have our fate in our own hands a lot more now than we did even two weeks ago,” said Miller.  “The trick is to keep playing one night at a time like we did to get ourselves back in contention and just keep grinding.”

While the Sabres have moved back into contention, they are still on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, and Drew Stafford said the team is only concerned about winning games and not what the teams around them do.

“We don’t really look at the standings too much,” said Stafford.  “We’re just worried about how we’re playing.  We’re not worried about other teams and where they’re crawling up the standings. We’re worried about us.”

Thursday night’s win came in Ryan Miller’s 30th consecutive start, leaving him four shy of tying his career-high.  During the current streak, Miller has led the Sabres to a record of 18-9-2 with a 2.71 goals against average and a .915 save percentage.

Miller was given the day off from practice on Friday and said he had a conversation with Ruff regarding the goaltender’s workload.

“Lindy and I tried to look a little bit ahead today and today was a day he said to take some time off the ice, so I can get a workout in, I can watch video, I can relax a little bit and start prepping for our game Sunday,” he said.

2/11 - Ryan Miller Interview

In addition to hosting the Islanders on Sunday, the upcoming schedule also includes games at Montreal on Tuesday, home against Toronto on Wednesday, home versus St. Louis on Friday and home against Washington next Sunday. 

Ruff told members of the media on Friday that defenseman Steve Montador, who has missed the last two games, has concussion symptoms and is still being evaluated. Ruff did not put a timetable on Montador’s return.

Patrick Kaleta has played just three times since suffering a hand injury on Dec. 28 but is nearing a return to the lineup.

“Pat will get a good skate in today and tomorrow and we’ll make a decision, but would really like to get him back in,” said Ruff.
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