Buffalo Sabres vs. Washington Capitals Recap: Miller Triumphant

A career-high 49 saves from Ryan Miller carried the Sabres to a 2-1 shootout win as the Olympic roster announcement closes in.

Thank god we had Ryan tonight.

That was the theme of a jubilant Sabres locker room following a 2-1 win that should have been anything but. When a team gets outshot by a 3:1 margin, and out-Corsi/Fenwick'd by an even greater margin, they usually don't win the game. But when they have a world-class goaltender backing them up, sometimes they can make things happen that defy explanation.

The first period harkened back to the days of Rolston, where the Sabres would get outshot by double digits on the reg. Two amazing stats from the first - Buffalo didn't record their first shot until 15:33 into the period, and Alex Ovechkin outshot the entire Sabres team in the opening frame six to three. The only saving grace was that the Sabres managed to keep the majority of Washington's shots to the outside, limiting the really dangerous chances to just a few, but still.

Things got chippy in the second period, as we saw a number of John Scott-inspired tussles in front of the nets, but when Marcus Foligno jumped Thomas Wilson for his hard hit on Ville Leino, Foligno was given 2/5/10 for his efforts. The Sabres would go on to allow Washington to control play for much of the middle part of the second, until a nice forecheck by Brian Flynn led to a seeing-eye shot by Christian Ehrhoff that deflected off the stick of Drew Stafford to open the scoring, and the Sabres would take a 1-0 lead in to the second intermission, even though they were outshot yet again 15-8.

The Sabres defensive porousness finally came back to bite them in the third, when Troy Brouwer ripped a nice shot over Miller's left shoulder to tie the game at one. However, when all was said and done, the Sabres survived 50 shots from the Capitals, including 12 from Alex Ovechkin himself, and two power plays from the league's #1 unit and forced a shootout.

Miller, of course, was stellar in the skills competition, only getting beat by a spinorama from Mikhail Grabovski which went off the post and out. In round six, Steve Ott finally put one in for Buffalo, and Miller stoned Mike Green to give the Sabres the 2-1 victory, and setting a career high in saves with 49. Miller's emphatic fist-pump at the and of the game was well deserved, and his teammates thought so as well.

"He's the best goalie in the league, and I don't say that lightly," said Steve Ott, "I really believe that." Ted Nolan agreed, and summed things up a bit more succinctly in his presser:

"Thank god we had Ryan tonight."

Three Questions

1. Who wins the second period?
The Sabres did, as they came out strong and scored the game's opening goal at the end. But the middle of the period belonged to Washington, as did the 15-8 shot advantage.

2. Alex Ovechkin hasn't scored in TWO games (gasp!) - will he break through against Buffalo?
Despite TWELVE shots, no. Think he'll remember that come Olympic time?

3. Will John Scott continue to earn his THIRD LINE minutes, and perhaps even challenge for a spot on the top two lines?
Scott skated 8:43 on the night, and finished with four hits and zero shots. Maybe it's time to send him back to the fourth line.

Three Stars

1. Ryan Miller - please don't ever leave
2. Drew Stafford - scored a goal
3.Christian Ehrhoff - assisted a goal

Comment of the Game

Haha! Where is your god now fancystats!?!

- oneeyeg

Ryan Miller laughs in the face of Fenwick.