BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Cody McCormick had a goal and assist, and Ryan Miller finished with 29 saves to help lift the Buffalo Sabres to a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Friday night.
Mike Grier, Jochen Hecht, and Thomas Vanek also scored to help the Sabres get their second straight win after a three-game losing streak.
Despite the win, the ninth-place Sabres were unable to gain ground on eighth place Carolina in the race for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The Hurricanes defeated Pittsburgh to remain three points in front of the Sabres.
Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza each had a goal and an assist for the Senators, who had their two-game winning streak snapped. ...more.
Mike Grier got Buffalo on the board first with a nifty deke while on a breakaway, giving the Sabres a lead they would not relinquish. Grier and McCormick combined to force a turnover at their own blue line, tipping the puck away from Senators defenseman Chris Campoli. McCormick slid the puck forward to Grier, who gained control at center ice, avoided a diving Campoli, and went in alone on Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson. Grier faked a shot, then pulled the puck from his forehand to his backhand and flipped it past Anderson at 6:25 of the first period. It was Grier’s fourth goal of the season and his first since Feb. 4.
For the fifth straight game, Ryan Miller
allowed fewer than three goals, and his biggest save of the night also resulted in his first point of the season. Miller finished with 29 saves on 31 shots, including a stop coming in the closing seconds when he got his right leg on a point blank shot by Nick Foligno from the slot as Buffalo was clinging to a 3-2 lead. Seconds later, Thomas Vanek
scored an empty net goal to secure the victory as Miller picked up an assist. Over the last five games, Miller has posted a 1.83 goals against average and a .945 save percentage.
- Tonight’s game was the fifth of a six-game homestand for Buffalo. After dropping the first three games, the Sabres have now won two straight.
- Cody McCormick
broke out of a scoring drought, netting his eighth goal of the season and first since Jan. 20. McCormick also assisted on Grier’s goal for his third multi-point game of the season.
- Jordan Leopold
picked up an assist on McCormick’s goal for his 33rd point (11-22-33) of the season, tying the career-high he set in 2003-04 with Calgary.
- Jochen Hecht
scored his 10th goal of the season to reach double-digits in goals for the 11th consecutive season.
It’s an up-and-down season, a roller coaster, and when you’re going good you’ve got to try to ride the momentum as much as you can. If we can get a win here (Saturday) night, we’ll be feeling good about ourselves going into a pretty tough road trip. - Sabres Forward Mike Grier
- Patrick Kaleta
led all players in the game with seven hits and six shots on goal in just 13:27 of ice time.
- Defense partners Jordan Leopold
and Steve Montador each finished with +3 ratings. Montador collected two assists.
- The Sabres recorded 39 shots for the second game in a row.
- Ottawa’s Roman Wick made his NHL debut in the game.
- Defenseman Andrej Sekera
was scratched for Buffalo for the third straight game.
- Forwards Chris Neil and Peter Regin and goaltender Pascal Leclaire were Ottawa’s scratches.
The Sabres get right back to work as they close out their season-long six-game homestand on Saturday by welcoming the Detroit Red Wings to HSBC Arena. Although the Sabres and Wings don’t play often, this will be the fourth straight year that Detroit has traveled to Buffalo after not visiting HSBC Arena at all during the two previous seasons. Henrik Zetterberg leads the team in scoring with 66 points (18-48-66) while Johan Franzen has scored a team-high 26 goals and goaltender Jimmy Howard ranks 1st among all NHL netminders with 30 wins on the season. Ryan Miller’s younger brother, Drew, is a forward for Detroit and has registered 4-8-12 in 54 games. Following Saturday’s game, Buffalo will not play at home again until March 13. The team embarks on a season-high seven-game road trip starting Tuesday at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers. The trip will also take them to Carolina, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Boston and Toronto.