Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller
returned to form against the Toronto Maple Leafs. After allowing four or more goals in his last three starts, Miller made 27 saves en route to the 3-1 victory on Thursday night.
"He looked comfortable and he was quick again," said Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff of Miller's performance. "I really thought he was back on his game."
"Tonight, I just put it in my head that I was just going to have fun and play hockey," said Miller. "Every time I've gotten into a bit of a funk, I always try to remind myself why I'm doing this. I do it to have fun.
"When you're sitting back in the net being the victim of the play, it's not fun. It's fun to be out, bouncing around a little bit and challenging guys to beat you."
Ruff commented following Miller's 6-4 victory in Washington on Tuesday that he thought the netminder was coming out of his slump in the third period. Ruff reiterated those sentiments of Thursday night.
"I really felt it was just going to take a period to get him back in his groove again," said Ruff. "He was just strong for us tonight."
Miller's best save of the night came against Darcy Tucker with three minutes remaining in Chris Drury's double minor for high-sticking in the third period. Tucker's one-timer off an across-ice pass from about six feet out was stoned by Miller sliding across the crease.
"I got a good read on it and I got a good push," said Miller. "He made a nice shot, I just barely got a toe on it."
Chris Drury led all scorers with two goals and an assist, while Mike Grier scored the game-winner midway through the third period.
"We were able to play a different style (from the last four games) and win," said Drury. "That's more our style, but we'll take them any way we can get them."
With a man-advantage for Buffalo, Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere cut to the center of Toronto's penalty kill umbrella and made a blind pass to Drury underneath the left face-off circle.
Drury one-timed the feed over a sprawled out Mikael Tellqvist for his team-leading 12th power-play goal of the season at 8:32.
With the primary assist, Briere's point total reached 17 points (5+12) in the last nine games.
Buffalo came close to expanding its lead to a pair of goal with 6:25 left the second. Stationed in front of the Toronto net, Taylor Pyatt redirected Dmitri Kalinin's blast from the left point for what was thought to be his fifth goal of the season. The goal was nullified after review when it was determined Pyatt's stick was above the crossbar.
Mats Sundin's slapshot from halfway up the left boards hit the left post and ricocheted of Miller's back into the net at 4:33 to tie the score 1-1.
Grier regained Buffalo's lead after a fantastic move around Aki Berg. Receiving a pass from Drury a stride behind him at the blueline, Grier kicked the puck ahead and raced into Toronto's zone.
Grier reached the loose puck just before Berg and tipped a pass to himself around the defenseman's back. After Tellqvist stopped his initial offering, Grier converted on his own rebound to give Buffalo the 2-1 lead at 8:14 of the third.
"Besides doing a great job on the penalty kill, Grier scored a great goal," said Ruff. "It was a great move to get around Berg on the play, and it was a key goal for us at a key time in the game."
Drury's clearing swipe on the penalty kill goes the distance and into an empty net at 19:01 to give Buffalo the 3-1 lead.
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1-0 (8:32): With a man-advantage for Buffalo, Daniel Briere carried the puck to the center of the offensive zone and made a blind pass to Chris Drury underneath the left faceoff circle. Drury one-timed the puck over a sprawling Mikael Tellqvist for his team-leading 12th power-play goal. Briere and Brian Campbell are credited with the assists.
1-1 (4:33): Mats Sundin's slapshot from halfway up the left boards hits the left post, ricochets of Ryan Miller's back into the back of the net. The goal is Sundin's 17th of the season. Jason Allison and Tomas Kaberle get the helpers.
2-1 (8:15): Receiving a pass from Chris Drury on Toronto's blueline, Mike Grier tipped the puck behind the back of Aki Berg to himself, fired on Tellqvist and then converted on his own rebound. The goal is Grier's seventh of the season. Drury and Ales Kotalik get the helpers.
3-1 (19:01): Chris Drury clearing swipe on the penalty kill, goes the distance of the ice and into the net. Tellqvist was pulled for the two-man advantage.