Ryan Miller made a statement to USA Hockey while helping the Buffalo Sabres avoid matching a dubious NHL record.
Miller outplayed fellow American Olympic goaltending hopeful Jonathan Quick, making 43 saves as Buffalo edged Los Angeles 3-2 in a shootout Tuesday night to avoid tying the worst home start in NHL history.
”It’s nice to get a win,” said Miller, the Most Valuable Player of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. ”We obviously needed to do that at home. These are the kind of games where guys hang around and understand that we need to do little things to stay in hockey games when things don’t go our way, and we can get a win.”
Cody Hodgson scored twice in regulation while Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis scored in the shootout for the Sabres (4-15-1). Miller stopped both Los Angeles shooters.
”It felt great to win a game like that when you’re outshot bad and outplayed,” Hodgson said. ”But when you have one of the best goaltenders in the world that’s what happens, you know?”
Buffalo was winless in its first nine home games, one short of the NHL record set by Pittsburgh in 1983-84.
Justin Williams and Dwight King scored in regulation for the Kings (11-7-0), who had won their previous two games.
Despite the loss, Los Angeles was the dominant team and controlled most of the play. The Kings outshot the Sabres 45-17, holding a 15-4 advantage after one period and 30-7 after two.
Quick wasn’t tested much until the third period and left the game with 1:20 to go in overtime with an injury. Kings coach Darryl Sutter said he ”didn’t really check” on Quick and did not have an update on the injury.
Ben Scrivens played the remainder of the game and faced the unusual task of not seeing a shot on goal until the shootout.
”It’s obviously tough going into the game late like that and going into the shootout but I’ve got to find a way to make a save in the shootout there,” Scrivens said. ”That’s my job.”
The Kings scored just over a minute into the game when Justin Williams’ shot deflected off Sabres defenseman Mark Pysyk, beating Miller low and right.
The Sabres didn’t register their first shot until 5:22 into the game, a moment met with one of the many jeers from the crowd.
Buffalo trailed 1-0 after the first period, continuing a trend that’s seen the Sabres outscored 27-3 this season in the opening 20 minutes.
Hodgson tied the game in the second period off pass from Steve Ott and then gave the Sabres their first lead since Nov. 5 when he tipped home a pass from Ville Leino.
”He was outstanding tonight for us, big in all areas,” said Sabres head coach Ron Rolston. ”He did good job out against their best players defensively and obviously he got two goals driving the net, both of them hard net drives.”
King forced overtime with 3:34 to play when he found a rebound in the crease and shot it past Miller. The Sabres nearly got the game-winner with under a minute to play when Ott found a streaking Moulson, who tapped the puck off the outside of the net.
Miller’s 30th save was perhaps his finest, sticking his right pad out to deny Mike Richards’ look at an open net less than a minute into the third period.
Miller downplayed the Olympic talk.
”Hopefully they’re just looking at the way they think you’re playing,” Miller said. ”Again, it’s not really about making the team right now for me, it’s about coming off of Anaheim and making a statement coming back that I’m going to be a pro and rebound with these guys and help give them a chance to win.”
The Kings did not convert on any of their five power play chances, making them 0 for their last 10.
Moulson also had two assists, while Ott was credited with 10 of Buffalo’s 31 hits.
NOTES: Los Angeles D Matt Greene and C Jarret Stoll each missed their third-consecutive game with upper body injuries. … Buffalo LW John Scott was scratched for the second-straight game after serving a seven game suspension. … It was the first of a four-game road trip for Los Angeles, which continues Thursday against the New York Islanders.