He stopped 31 shots, including 15 in the third period, to preserve Buffalo’s 3-2 win Wednesday night and prevent the Ottawa Senators from sweeping the Eastern Conference finals.
“When things weren’t going our way at the end of the second period, we could’ve packed it in there, and said, ‘Ah, you know it’s too tough,”’ Miller said. “But we battled through some tough situations.”
The Sabres survived after nearly squandering a 3-0 lead, and forced Game 5 of the best-of-seven series, which will be played at Buffalo on Saturday.
But it was Miller who saved the Sabres, this time rewarded after he was on the wrong end of a 31-save performance in a 1-0 loss in Game 3 on Monday.
He stopped 10 shots during a 4:30 stretch when Ottawa enjoyed consecutive power-play chances. It’s a span when Miller produced his biggest save, waving his glove up to bat down Corvo’s snap shot from the slot.
“It’s always a relief to see the goalie make the save, big or small, but that was a huge one,” defenseman Toni Lydman said. “He was amazing.”
Tell that to Corvo, who thought the Senators had the Sabres on the run.
“They were trying their hardest to give it to us, but their goalie decided that he didn’t want to let anything by him,” Corvo said.
Now it’s the Senators’ turn to rebound, still one win from advancing to their first Stanley Cup finals. Ottawa, which needed five games each to eliminate New Jersey and Pittsburgh in the first two rounds, had a six-game winning streak snapped.
Senators forward Jason Spezza wasn’t happy with his team’s start. Ottawa allowed three goals on 10 shots.
“You probably can’t afford to spot anybody three goals, and we battled back, and we had chances just didn’t score,” said Spezza, who had an eight-game point streak snapped. “I think we’re still confident with where we’re at.”
Except for the outcome, the game was reminiscent of Ottawa’s rally from a 2-0 deficit to win Game 2 of the series 4-3 in double-overtime.
The Sabres shed a couple of days of frustration, getting a big lift on Roy’s goal, which quickly silenced a crowd that was still cheering the opening faceoff. The goal was set up by a turnover when Andrej Meszaros’ clearing pass ticked off Roy’s skate, directly to Drury just inside the Ottawa blue line.
Drury immediately fed a pass to Roy who, standing to the right of the net, redirected the puck over Ray Emery.
The goal was the fastest in Sabres playoff history, breaking the mark set last year when Henrik Tallinder scored 33 seconds in against Ottawa on May 13, 2006. It was still 3 seconds shy of the NHL playoff record, set by Los Angeles’ Don Kozak on April 17, 1977.
“I didn’t know it was the fastest but it was huge for us,” Roy said. “I think it just lifted the spirit of the team.”
The Sabres needed something to go right after looking flat and demoralized in Game 3, when they managed only 15 shots.
Buffalo then got another first—a rare power-play goal—when Afinogenov scored during a two-man advantage 5 minutes into the second. It was the Sabres’ first power-play goal in 19 chances against Ottawa this series.
Drury’s goal stood up as the winner, the co-captain converting Tim Connolly’s pass into the right circle and sneaking in a shot that beat Emery inside his right arm.
It was Drury’s 15th career playoff game-winner, moving him into second place on the active list—three behind Colorado captain Joe Sakic. Drury delivered a day after he urged his teammates to come out and fight like dogs.
“That was a whole locker room thing, that wasn’t me just saying that,” Drury said. “Everyone understood that and knew what we were up against and I think it relaxed us.”
Roy’s goal ended Buffalo’s scoring drought at 85 minutes, 13 seconds, dating to Daniel Briere’s overtime-forcing goal in Game 2. … The goal was the fastest allowed by Ottawa in the playoffs, beating the previous mark of 21 seconds set by Philadelphia’s Claude Lapointe on May 3, 2003. It also tied the Senators franchise record when Carolina’s Shane Willis scored nine seconds in on Nov. 12, 2000. … Ottawa’s Dany Heatley had a nine-game point streak (four goals and 11 assists) snapped, while Daniel Alfredsson’s seven-game streak also ended (six goals, three assists).