Last week, Bruins forward Milan Lucic solved Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller 13:21 into the first period of a 3-2 Boston overtime win to end the Sabres netminder’s shutout streak at 161 minutes, 35 seconds.
Miller struggled again Saturday against Pittsburgh in a 5-2 loss, but for the most part he has started to once again resemble the Olympic-starting and Vezina-winning goaltender the Sabres have come to rely on. Miller should be in the net tonight, when the Sabres host the Bruins.
He’ll be attempting to improve on his recent stretch of 4-2-1 and his season’s 2.41 goals-against average and .917 save percentage — numbers some teams would die to get out of their starting goaltender.
Miller’s come a long way since his 3-5-2 start to the season, which preceded his first injury absence of the season. The re-emergence of Miller as a dominant force isn’t the only way the Sabres are once again resembling a playoff team, despite sitting 12th in the Eastern Conference, some eight points out of eighth.
Tonight the Sabres are scheduled to enjoy the return of Tim Connolly, Drew Stafford and Rob Niedermayer after injury absences of varying lengths. The Bruins found out firsthand last season in the playoffs and in last week’s TD Garden match-up how much the Sabres struggle without Connolly and/or Stafford in their lineup, or when one or both of those players skates banged up. The trio of veterans might need some time to shake the rust off, but they’ll make the Sabres a more formidable foe and a solid test for the Bruins.
Remember, if not for a dreadful giveaway by Mike Weber that led to Nathan Horton’s wide-open goal from the slot in the closing minutes of the last Boston-Buffalo game, the Connolly-less, Stafford-less Sabres might’ve left the Garden with two points and stranded the Bruins with none.