DENVER – Ryan Miller used his head with the game on the line.
No, really, his head. Late in the game, the St. Louis goalie craned his neck into the air to block a shot, taking a puck square in the mask.
Anything for a win, especially this late in the season.
Miller stopped 26 shots, and David Backes broke up a scoreless game in the second period, helping the Blues beat the surging Avalanche 2-1 on Saturday in a Central Division showdown.
“I’m just trying to fit in,” Miller nonchalantly said. “I’m not here to save the day or anything.”
But he has excelled since being acquired from Buffalo last week. He is 4-0 thanks to plays like he made late in the third period with his team ahead by a goal.
Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog got loose in front, and while falling to one knee, tried to lift a shot past Miller. But the veteran rose up to thwart the shot.
He was just getting warmed up, too, for the division-leading Blues. Miller withstood a furious rally by the Avalanche in the final two minutes after they pulled goalie Semyon Varlamov.
“I’m here to become part of this club and work my way in, keep good habits,” Miller said. “I’ve played a long time and think I have a lot to offer. That’s my job right now.”
The more chaos around Miller, the more he seemed to calm down. That is one of his best attributes, coach Ken Hitchcock said.
“His whole disposition calms everybody down,” Hitchcock said. “He’s good. There’s a reason he’s won so many games.”
With the Blues up 2-0 early in the third, after Patrik Berglund added a pivotal insurance goal, Miller appeared headed toward his first shutout in nearly two years. But Colorado solved Miller when P.A. Parenteau lifted a shot over him.
“He’s been solid back there,” Backes said. “Doing everything that world-class goalies do.”
Senators 5, Jets 3
In Winnipeg, Ales Hemsky had three assists in his second game with Ottawa, and the struggling Senators held off the Jets.
It was Hemsky’s first points for the Senators since he was acquired on Wednesday from Edmonton. He was placed on Ottawa’s top line.
Bruins 4, Lightning 3 (SO)
In Tampa, Reilly Smith scored the lone shootout goal in the seventh round to lead Boston past the Lightning.
Smith put an in-close shot between the pads of Ben Bishop. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask caught a break on Tampa Bay’s seventh shootout attempt when Richard Panik hit the post.
Devils 5, Hurricanes 4
In Newark, New Jersey, Tuomo Ruutu scored with 6:30 to play against his former teammates, and the Devils edged Carolina after squandering a three-goal lead.
Adam Henrique added two more goals, and Travis Zajac and Damien Brunner had the others as the usually defensive-minded Devils had another lax game in their own end. Martin Brodeur made 29 saves.
Capitals 3, Coyotes 2
In Washington, Troy Brouwer scored a power-play goal off a rebound to cap a rally from a two-goal deficit in the third period.
After failing to score in the first 49 minutes against Mike Smith (30 saves), Washington tallied three times in a span of 5 minutes, 2 seconds.
Blue Jackets 1, Predators 0
In Nashville, Artem Anisimov scored with 6:25 remaining in the third period and Sergei Bobrovsky made 28 saves.
It was Bobrovsky’s third shutout of the season for Columbus, which has won four of five.
Maple Leafs 4, Flyers 3 (OT)
In Toronto, Joffrey Lupul scored 2:21 into overtime for the Maple Leafs, who squandered a third-period lead but bounced back to beat Philadelphia.
Jake Gardiner and Nazem Kadri both had a goal in the game’s first four minutes, and Mason Raymond scored the go-ahead goal in the third period for Toronto.
Stars 4, Wild 3
In Dallas, Erik Cole scored on a breakaway with 4:49 to play.
Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen was injured in a collision with the Wild’s Erik Haula at 6:37 of the third period. Newly acquired goalie Tim Thomas earned the win in his Dallas debut in relief.
Canucks 2, Flames 1
In Vancouver, Yannick Weber scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period, helping the Canucks snap a four-game skid.
Darren Archibald also scored for struggling Vancouver, which entered the game having lost 11 of their last 12.
Sharks 4, Canadiens 0
In San Jose, Tommy Wingels scored two goals and Antti Niemi made 27 saves to shut Montreal out for the second time this season.