By Adam Brady (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ANAHEIM – Add the Anaheim Ducks to the already-lengthy list of teams Ryan Miller has shut down over the years.
The Buffalo Sabres All-Star netminder stopped all 43 Anaheim shots to keep the Ducks from gaining precious ground in the Western Conference standings in a 2-0 defeat at Honda Center.
It was the 26th shutout of Miller’s decorated career, his first in five appearances against Anaheim. He also beat the Ducks in the opening game of the season, 4-1 in Helsinki, Finland. This was his and his Buffalo teammates' first appearance at Honda Center since January 19, 2010.
Anaheim had a chance to get to within five points of the eighth spot in the West after Dallas took a 4-3 shootout loss to Pittsburgh in a game that ended just after this game began. But despite outshooting the Sabres 43-24, and throwing 20 shots on net in the third period alone, they could get nothing past Miller.
"He played outstanding," said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. "Their team played well and he played really well. We were right in there, hitting posts, getting pucks to the net and crashing the net hard. He did a great job keeping them out, as did their defense. We know he is one of the best goalies in the league. Tonight was one of those nights we couldn’t get one past him."
Said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, "We’ve been meeting some goalies that have been pretty good. Ryan Miller was at his MVP-best tonight."
The Ducks’ frustration reared its head in the game's final minute, when both Getzlaf and Corey Perry got into fights with Buffalo foes during play, and several players from both teams brawled after the final horn.
"It was a hard-fought game," Getzlaf said. "It ended up with the result of a fight. I got cross-checked in the face and I didn’t want to take that at the end of the game. That was the situation that it was."
Buffalo got on the board at 7:12 of the first when a Tyler Myers shot from the point bounced hard off the end boards, where Derek Roy punched it in from a low angle left of the net.
Brad Boyes made it 2-0 Sabres 8:16 into the second period, just after a Luca Sbisa penalty expired, as he tipped through a Christian Ehrhoff slap shot.
"I thought we played pretty well, but if you don’t score, it’s tough to win," said Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller (22 saves). "For me, it’s tough to be back there, feel like I’m playing pretty well and seeing the guys trying and trying and not getting anywhere. It’s definitely frustrating. If we play like that every night, we always have a chance to win."
The Ducks can afford few losses with just 18 games left in the regular season, the next coming Friday night vs. Calgary at Honda Center.
"It's a bit of a heartbreaker," said Boudreau, "but this team hasn't quit in 2 1/2 months and I don't expect them to quit now."
20:00 - END OF GAME - Huge brawl involving several members of both teams after the horn, putting some dirt on a 2-0 Anaheim loss.
19:45 - ANA Penalty - Corey Perry, 2 min. slashing and 5 min. fighting and BUF Penalty - Robin Regehr, 5 min. fighting. Now it's Perry and Regehr trading punches in front of the Buffalo cage. Frustration setting in for Anaheim.
19:21 - Timeout Ducks.
19:21 - Just as the Ducks are carrying the puck into the Buffalo zone, Getzlaf and Weber tangle, with a lot of clutching and grabbing before Getzlaf ducks a punch and drags him down.
18:50 - Selanne in deep, off Miller.
18:05 - Hiller to the bench.
17:10 - Sbisa with a one-timer off Miller, the Ducks' 40th shot of the game.
15:10 - Hiller with a chest save on Hodgson to keep the Ducks in it.
13:25 - Miller doesn't see Francois Beauchemin's shot through traffic, but it clangs off the outside of the far post.
11:15 - Koivu denied by the outstretched leg of Miller. Close.
11:00 - Koivu swipes backhanded at a rebound in front of Miller, but it's just wide.
9:53 - BUF Penalty - Christian Ehrhoff, 2 min. hooking. Koivu gets rewarded for his hustle in the Buffalo end when Ehrhoff takes him down. Twenty-two more seconds and the Ducks go on the power play.
9:00 - Perry sprints down the ice shorthanded and tries to feed Hagman, but it's knocked away.
8:14 - ANA Penalty - Ryan Getzlaf, 2 min. tripping.A crashing Kaleta gets taken down from behind by Getzlaf while trying to punch in a Gerbe pass and goes spilling into Hiller and the net. Hiller is slow to get up, but he's okay after an equipment fix.
Ducks again honor a couple of members of the military, including one man who served in Okinawa and Vietnam, among other locales.
4:25 - Beleskey turned away from the slot, then Bonino gets the same treatment on a one-timer from the same spot.
3:30 - Selanne with a little backhand pass in front to Ryan, who is taken down by Regehr with a cross check before it gets to him.
2:43 - Glass repair guys have Teemu looking over their shoulder, putting the pressure on. We're back at it after a nine-minute delay.
2:43 - A slap shot by Ehrhoff from the red line misses the net but puts a spiderweb in the glass. We'll be delayed a bit as they repair it.
0:00 - Here we go in the third, the Ducks with some work to do.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Boyes' goal is all the scoring in the second and it's 2-0 Buffalo. Ducks outshooting Sabres, 23-20.
17:30 - Ryan picks up a rebound and is robbed by a sprawling Miller, who pays the price when Perry goes hard for the puck.
16:50 - Getzlaf with a backhand feed to a streaking Perry, tipped just wide.
15:51 - Right off the draw, Beleskey and Tropp drop the gloves, with Tropp getting in the first couple of blows, but Beleskey turning the tables on him and landing some rights before taking him down. Whole thing lasted 10 seconds.
15:05 - New Sabre Hodgson sneaks in on right wing, but Hiller turns him away from in close.
14:53 - Linesman calls another very close offside on the Ducks, and the crowd and Selanne aren't happy. Was the right call though.
12:26 - Hagman gets in deep and gets denies on a backhand, as well as a couple of swipes at the loose puck.
8:16 - BUFFALO GOAL - BRAD BOYES - Just as Sbisa is sprinting back onto the ice, Ehrhoff fires a shot from the point that Boyes knocks down with his stick past Hiller. It's 2-0 Sabres.
6:11 - ANA Penalty - Luca Sbisa, 2 min. boarding. Sbisa takes Tropp into the wall.
5:51 - Right as the power play ends, Cogliano fires into Miller's glove.
4:40 - Perry with a good chance at a wraparound shorthanded, but he gets denied by Miller's right skate. That was close.
3:51 - ANA Penalty - Matt Beleskey, 2 min. tripping. Beleskey takes down Pominville near the wall.
2:30 - Ryan gets knocked down behind the Ducks net and sends referee Dean Morton tumbling over him.
0:20 - Selanne picks up a lost puck and gets it poked away by Miller from in deep.
0:00 - Ducks begin the second on the PP.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Roy puts the Sabres on top, but the Ducks get 27 seconds of power play time when we come back.
19:15 - Getzlaf with a rocket from the point, kicked away.
18:27 - BUF Penalty - Tyler Myers, 2 min. hooking. Ryan tries to trip a Getzlaf shot during the delay, but it's just wide.
15:25 - Hiller kicks away a shot that arrived through traffic.
11:30 - Getzlaf heads down shorthanded on a partial breakaway, but loses the puck off his stick at the last moment.
It's a Match the Mascots contest during the timeout, where a fan has to guess which Big West school a series of five mascots belong to, given the choice of two schools on each. Dude gets five out of six. Nicely done.
7:12 - BUFFALO GOAL - DEREK ROY - Myers' shot from the right wing flies past the net and caroms hard off the end boards, where Roy chips it in from just above the extended goal line. It's 1-0 Buffalo.
7:03 - Hiller stands strong against a flurry in his crease and some swinging sticks.
5:22 - ANA Penalty - Corey Perry, 2 min. delay of game. Perry knocks down the puck just outside the crease, then chips it over the glass.
4:40 - Hiller makes a desperation save with the glove on a rebound try by Buffalo.
1:40 - Getzlaf (five shots last game) with a try from a low angle.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center.
7:07 p.m. - Dawn Wright belts out another anthem.
Blake with Bonino and Cogliano to start. Starters in bold/italics.