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by Rob Crean / Buffalo Sabres

van Riemsdyk
6 shots
35 SVS, SO 5 hits, 22:20 TOI

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Ryan Miller stopped a shot from his knees and with six players in the crease. He saved one with Buffalo down two men. Any way Philadelphia tried to attack him, Miller never buckled.

He was perfect in net and the Sabres took quick control of the series.

Miller stopped 35 shots for his second career postseason shutout and Patrick Kaleta scored to lift the Buffalo Sabres to a 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference playoff series Thursday night.

"It's important to establish that we can skate with these guys," Miller said. "We like where we're at, but that team over there has a lot of fight, and we'll have to be ready for them."

Miller stopped every shot under all types of pressure and carried the Sabres to the clutch opening win. The teams have met eight times in the postseason and the Game 1 winner won the series each time.

Kaleta snapped the scoreless tie early in the third period when he powered a rebound past rookie Sergei Bobrovsky... More

The 2011 playoff opener between the Sabres and Flyer – the ninth installment of the rivalry – needed only one goal for the outcome to be decided, and that goal came from an unlikely source.  Patrick Kaleta, who had missed 16 of the final 17 games of the regular season and finished the year with four goals, broke a scoreless tie at 5:56 of the third period to send Buffalo to a 1-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.  The goal was set up by hard work along the boards by Nathan Gerbe and Paul Gaustad.  When Gaustad came up with the puck, he sent a pass across the ice to Marc-Andre Gragnani, who then fired a slap shot from the point that was stopped by Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.  Kaleta was racing toward the net and was there to knock in the rebound for his second career playoff goal and first playoff game-winning goal.

Although he played in parts of Buffalo’s final two regular season games, tonight was Ryan Miller’s first start in goal since March 29 in Toronto, and he came up with a clutch performance.  Miller turned aside all 35 shots he faced to lead Buffalo to a 1-0 win as well as a 1-0 series lead while posting the second postseason shutout of his career.  Miller battled traffic in front of his crease for most of the night, and even involved himself in a scrum when he tangled with Flyers captain Mike Richards after a whistle in the first period.  He made several key stops in the game, many of which were from close range.  The netminder also came up big on the penalty kill, including during a 5-on-3 midway through the second period.  Miller’s only other playoff shutout also came against Philadelphia on April 30, 2006.

- This marks the ninth all-time postseason meeting between Buffalo and Philadelphia.  While the Flyers won five of the first eight, the Sabres have won three of the last four entering the 2011 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.  In the first eight series, there has never been a four game sweep, nor has there been a series that went to seven games.

We’ve been playing this game now for three months. It’s been a one-goal game, whether it’s 2-1 or 3-2, or tied late in the period, we’ve been tested continually down the stretch.” - Head Coach Lindy Ruff on playing close games
- The team that won Game 1 went on to win the series in each of the first eight playoff series between the Sabres and Flyers.

- Lindy Ruff has now led the Sabres to a record of 9-2 in series-opening games that are played on the road.  Buffalo is also 14-4 in Game 1 of playoff series with Ruff behind the bench.

- Marc-Andre Gragnani picked up the primary assist on Kaleta’s goal for his first NHL playoff point while also making his postseason debut. The AHL Defenseman of the Year finished with 19:28 of ice time and two blocked shots.

- As a team, the Sabres blocked 16 shots to Philadelphia’s four blocked shots in Game 1. Steve Montador led Buffalo with three blocks.

- Thomas Vanek, who was named the NHL’s First Star for the final week of the regular season, was held without a point for just the fourth time in his last 18 games.

- The Sabres’ penalty killing units went 5-for-5, which included killing off a 5-on-3 situation in the second period.

- Chris Butler led all skaters in the game with 26:04 of ice time and was credited with four hits and a blocked shot.  Paul Gaustad led all Sabres forwards with 19:06 of ice time.

- Andrej Sekera missed his third straight game with an upper body injury while Mike Grier returned to the lineup after missing the final seven games of the regular season with a knee injury.  As a result, Mark Mancari was a healthy scratch, as was Patrick Lalime.

- Jordan Leopold (hand) and Jochen Hecht (upper body) remained sidelined due to injury.

- Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger did not play due to a hand injury and is day-to-day, according to an announcement made by the team this morning.  Pronger has not played since March 8.

- Defenseman Nick Boynton, forward Jody Shelley and goaltender Michael Leighton were scratched for the Flyers.

The Sabres and Flyers will continue their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center for Game 2  The series then shifts to Buffalo for Games 3 and 4 next Monday and Wednesday.  Dating back to regular season, the Sabres have now won five consecutive games and have not lost since March 29 in Toronto.

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