2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – First Round Series Recap
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 4 - Buffalo 1, Philadelphia 0 – Series tied, 2-2
It has become apparent that if the Buffalo Sabres are going to win in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Ryan Miller is going to have to stand on his head.
Two headstands down, then; two to go.
In Game 1 of this best-of-seven series against the Philadelphia Flyers, Buffalo won 1-0, all because the team’s star netminder, Mr. Miller, had 35 saves. He might have topped that in Game 4, a contest the Sabres simply had to win.
Miller stopped all 32 shots the Flyers threw at him for his second shutout of the playoffs, and the Sabres beat the Flyers on Wednesday night to even the first-round playoff series at two games apiece. The lone goal was scored in the first period by Jason Pominville at the 9:38 mark. After that, it was truly “Miller Time.” For Miller, it was his third career playoff shutout, and it was entirely needed on a night when Buffalo’s offense was once again kept under wraps by the formidable Flyers. Even though Miller was the hero in this game, his counterpart Brian Boucher was sharp as well. Boucher – once again coming up big for Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette – had 28 saves on the evening at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, but the one goal he allowed was all the Sabres and Miller needed to even the series.
Miller's best stops came in the final nine minutes of the contest. First, he produced an ice-veins glove save in stopping Philly’s ever-dangerous Danny Briere, who was set up alone in front of the net. The stop on Briere might be the save of the playoffs so far.
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Then just a few minutes later, Miller reached back with his stick to prevent the Flyers’ Mike Richards from slipping a shot into an open left side of the net. Amidst the highlight-reel sequences he delivered on Wednesday, Miller was calm and collected in the final minutes of regulation, too. He didn’t allow any soft goals and he proved to be a steadying influence for a team that could have slumped its shoulders after losing home-ice advantage in Game 3 on Monday. Buffalo managed to forge a 2-2 series at home, which is something that two other teams in similar positions – the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning – failed to do on Wednesday night. This only adds to the enormity of what Miller achieved between the pipes.
There were numerous scrums at the end of the game, which should make for an interesting Game 5 in Philadelphia. Game 5 will be at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday night.
By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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