BUFFALO, NEW YORK – Ryan Miller was more concerned about overcoming jetlag than thinking about providing a memorable send-off in what could potentially have been one of the goalie’s final games for the Buffalo Sabres.
A little over a day after returning to Buffalo from the Sochi Games, and with his future uncertain, Miller stopped 36 shots and even contributed to the offense with two assists in a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night in the NHL’s first game after its Olympic break.
“I wasn’t really getting too far ahead or thinking about that kind of stuff,” Miller said when asked about his future.
Before the game, general manager Tim Murray acknowledged he’s shopping the goalie with the intention of dealing him before the league’s trade deadline on March 5. Miller is on the block because he’s in the final year of his contract, and Murray is unsure whether the 33-year-old is prepared to re-sign with a team that’s rebuilding through youth.
“I’m trying to take the approach to take things as they come right now and be positive and play hockey,” Miller added. “It’s a lot of fun to play and win. I’m going to try to enjoy these kind of moments where you can help make a difference.”
Despite feeling “a little bit goofy” from jetlag, Miller was certainly the difference by stopping the first 20 shots he faced in a game in which Buffalo was outshot 38-18.
“It just shows what kind of goaltender we have in Ryan Miller,” interim coach Ted Nolan said. “I don’t think we had too much reason to say we were the better team tonight outside of Ryan Miller stealing that game for us.”
Christian Ehrhoff scored twice, including the go-ahead goal with 44 seconds left. Tyler Ennis also scored for the Sabres, who snapped a four-game skid, and won for only the third time in its past 14 games (3-8-3).
Both of Miller’s assists came on Ehrhoff’s goals. That made him the NHL’s first goalie to have that many since Vancouver’s Cory Schneider had two in a 5-4 overtime loss to Tampa Bay on Dec. 11, 2010, according to STATS.
Arlington, Virginia — Alex Ovechkin apologized for Russia’s hockey performance at the Olympics, a sentiment put in perspective by the encouraging news that his father was on the way home after heart surgery.
Far more upset was Nicklas Backstrom, who remains clearly miffed that an allergy medication he’s taken for years cost him a chance to play for a gold medal.
The Washington Capitals held their first post-Olympics practice Tuesday, a session overshadowed by residue from the Winter Games even as they tried to focus on the resumption of their NHL schedule.
Ovechkin was one of the faces of Sochi, bent on winning the gold on home ice. Instead, the Russians were eliminated in the quarterfinals for the second consecutive Olympics.
“First of all, I want to say sorry to the fans,” Ovechkin said. “Because it’s once in a lifetime opportunity to represent your country in the Olympics, and you didn’t get the results, you didn’t get any medal. Of course the fans, the media and the people who support Russia, family, was upset, but life goes on.”
Ovechkin took the Olympic disappointment especially hard four years ago, but this time he had to immediately turn his attention to his family. His father, who has a history of heart problems, became ill following one of his son’s games and required surgery. Ovechkin wasn’t told until three days later, after Russia had been eliminated.