DETROIT (AP)—Things didn’t start out well for Ryan Miller. They ended perfectly.
Miller is a native of East Lansing, Mich., and played at Michigan State from 1999-2002, winning the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s top player in 2001. He played at Joe Louis Arena many times in college and this was the second time in the building as an NHL player.
But he had to overcome a tough start as Buffalo trailed 2-0 in the first period.
He misplayed a carom off the boards and Jason Williams calmly put the puck into the empty net 1:29 into the game.
“I just tried to forgive myself. I know the guys would forgive me,” Miller said. “It took a pretty good hop. … That’s playing at Joe Louis Arena. I should know better.”
But then he made several outstanding saves the rest of the game.
“After that bad bounce on the second shift of the game, he came up with saves for us the next two periods at crucial times,” Kotalik said.
Williams had both of Detroit’s goals and Dominik Hasek made 15 saves for the Red Wings (2-1-1).
Detroit coach Mike Babcock praised Miller.
“You’re just wiring (the puck) off this kid. It’s hitting him off the shoulder,” Babcock said. “The first part is the kid. He’s their best player and he kept them in the game.”
“That was the biggest part of the game,” Kotalik said. “… That gave us confidence we could win the game.”
Vanek’s power-play goal with 2:12 left in the second period tied the score at 2. He picked up a loose puck in the slot and put a shot over Hasek.
Williams’ second goal made it 2-0 with 6:53 left in the opening period when he scored from in front.
“Our offense was pretty good but we did didn’t capitalize on the 5-on-3,” he said. “We tried to put it towards the net as much as possible.”
Drury’s power-play goal, in a goal-mouth scramble, put Buffalo on the board with 4:50 remaining in the first period.
Miller is a cousin of former NHL players Kelly, Kevin and Kip Miller. … Detroit LW Johan Franzen got his second assist of the season. He didn’t get his first assist last season, his rookie year, until Dec. 31.