Ryan Miller was absolutely superb again, saving all 39 of San Jose's shots in a 1-0 shutout win. Drew Stafford was the lone goal scorer, scoring his 13th goal of the season and his 9th point since the All Star Break. Miller's back-to-back shutouts ties his career high for shutouts in a season (5), which he has matched in his last three seasons in net.
The Sharks were strong early in the first period, outshooting the Sabres 9-4 in the first 10 minutes and forcing Ryan Miller to continue his authoritarian play. A Brad Winchester elbowing penalty 11:23 into the period gave the Sabres their first Power Play, but they were unable to establish any decent scoring chances on their two minute advantage. The final 10 minutes of the first saw some much better scoring chances by the Sabres, and with 1:09 left in the period, Drew Stafford converted a pass from Tyler Ennis (8) to give the Sabres an early 1-0 lead. The play began from a Brent Burns giveaway, which then resulted in a 3 on 2 odd man rush and the subsequent Stafford goal. The period shot totals ended with an 11-10 advantage by San Jose.
The second period had both teams trade Power Plays, yet no goals could be had from either club. The Sharks continued to pour it on, outshooting the Sabres 11-4 while adding a shot off the post on their PP. The highlight of the period occurred 1:12 into it when Ryane Clowe was robbed by Miller from point blank range in front of the net.
Simply put, the San Jose Sharks were relentless in the third. Outshooting the Sabres again 17-5, Ryan Miller had to make multiple saves in order to save the 2 points. Check below to see some of the scoring chances and good saves I noted Miller making in the 3rd:
- Vlasic hits the cross bar on a flip shot on net from the point. Miller looked like never saw it, but the puck flicked off the post and into the screen.
- Miller makes a great save on a Joe Pavelski tip right in front of the net. By the end of the play, Miller was sprawling all over the crease in order to keep the puck out of the net.
- Miller makes a toe save at the end of the Sharks PP with traffic in front of the net.
- Miller breaks up a pass on a 3 on 1 rush by SJ. Wingels attempted to make a pass across the crease, but Miller used his stick to poke check the puck away from the crashing SJ forwards.
- Brent Burns attempted to go top corner on Miller, but he held his ground and made the save. At the end of the play, Kaleta (aided by a Clowe shove) crashed into Miller, shaking him up a bit. Luckily, this did not affect his play for the duration of the 3rd.
All in all, it was another fabulous game for Miller and the Sabres defense. While Ryan Miller has been playing great, it should be noted that our defense has been much more capable at clearing the net in front of him. San Jose was strong on the puck and consistently crashed the net, yet our defense has been able to move bodies in front of Miller, allowing him to see pucks and make the save.
The win tonight gives the Sabres 66 points, which puts them firmly in 10th place of the Eastern Conference, four points behind the Winnipeg Jets for 8th. It also improves our record to 10-3-3 since the All Star break and 5-0-2 in our last 7. The win also increases their playoff chances by 2.1% to 6.7% according to Sports Club Stats. Most importantly, it puts the team 1 point ahead of our biggest rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Some other notes:
- The Sabres were outshot 39-19 in the win. This is obviously not a sustainable pace to win games unless Miller is going to be unbeatable for the rest of the season. From what I have seen the last two games, that could be the case, but I would rather have the team providing some more offensive support for the rest of the season.
-Robyn Regehr did not return after a 2nd period hit from Patrick Marleau. The nature of his injury is unknown at this point in time.
- The Sabres are 8-1-3 when Tyler Ennis scores a point.
- Miller has saved his last 82 shots on net (Thanks to Ogre and twoeightnine for this tidbit). Since the All-Star break, he has a SV% of 0.945, a GAA of 1.67, and 4 shutouts. Arguably, this could be some of the best hockey he has played in his career. If we remove the 7 goal Philly game (where he let in 4 goals) from his post All Star Break total, he has a SV% of 0.952, which is spectacular.
- This is the fourth time in Ryan Miller's career where he has had back-to-back shutouts in games he has played. The other times:
- 1/1/08 and 1/3/08
- 1/31/09 and 2/04/09
- 12/3/10 and 12/4/10