If Ryan Miller is once again able to steal games for the Buffalo Sabres, the abbreviated 2013 season may not be lost.
But not if those around him are as putrid as they were Saturday in Long Island.
The Sabres spent most of the game in their own end, mounting a feeble 15 shots to the New York Islanders' 43. But Miller stopped 41 of those – including a key penalty shot stop on John Tavares – and the Sabres were just scrappy enough to get three goals in and escape with a 3-2 victory.
The Islanders dominated the first period, but Buffalo was able to convert seemingly its only chance of the stanza. Thomas Vanek scooped up yet another loose puck in front of Evgeni Nabakov at the nine-minute mark for his league-leading 11th goal of the season. The Islanders outshot Buffalo 15-4 for the period but couldn't cash one in until the final 42 seconds, when Tavares beat Miller to tie the game at intermission.
The second period was pretty much just like the first. The Islanders outshot Buffalo 14-7, but the Sabres got a timely goal from Christian Ehrhoff, who took a Cody Hodgson feed on an odd-man rush to bury his first goal of the season at the 12:21 mark. Colin McDonald solved Miller about five minutes later, though, to once again send the teams to intermission tied.
Buffalo managed a meager four third-period shots, but Alexander Sulzer was able to make one of them count as the game-winning goal, shooting the puck from the right point and through a screen past Nabakov. Tavares' penalty shot came in the final 10 minutes after Ehrhoff hooked him on a breakaway, and Miller was steady the rest of the way, stopping all 13 Islanders shots in the stanza.
"Ryan made the big saves when we needed him," coach Lindy Ruff said.
Defenseman Tyler Myers was a healthy scratch Saturday. Ruff would not say whether he will be back the next game.
The win gives Buffalo its first winning streak since the first two games of the season. Boston's game against Tampa on Saturday was canceled due to the New England storm, but the Bruins were able to fly out late Saturday to take the First Niagara Center Ice at 7 p.m. Sunday.Tags: Buffalo, Buffalo Sabres, Hockey, NHL