for this game

Miller displays All-Star form as Sabres edge Blackhawks

Jan 11, 2007 - 5:20 AM
CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Ryan Miller showed why he was selected as a starter for this season's All-Star Game.

Miller came within 50 seconds of a shutout and Jochen Hecht and Maxim Afinogenov scored goals as the Buffalo Sabres handed the Chicago Blackhawks their fourth straight loss with a 2-1 triumph.

One of three Sabres chosen to start for the Eastern Conference in the NHL's 55th midseason gala on January 24, Miller proved his worth against Chicago. The 26-year-old stopped 10 shots in the first period, 11 in the second and the first 10 he saw in the third until Denis Arkhipov was credited with a shorthanded goal on a fluke play at 19:10.

"We had a good defensive game, just one breakdown late while on the power play," said Miller, who will be joined in the conference's All-Star starting lineup by teammates Daniel Briere and defenseman Brian Campbell.

Skating down the slot, Arkhipov unleashed a shot that hit the right goalpost. With Miller flat on his stomach, the puck caromed across the crease and hit the goaltender's right leg, reversing direction and glancing off his left skate before crossing the goal line.

"I was up at the top of the crease and tried to cover the puck with my feet because it was behind me," Miller said. "Guess I have to work on my yoga."

It was too little, too late, however, as Miller turned aside the final three shots unleashed by Chicago to preserve the victory.

"We need to get traffic to the net," Blackhawks coach Denis Savard said. "We keep reminding the guys and they haven't been doing it. When they did on some occasions, it seemed like we just got in the way and blocked our own shots."

Hecht opened the scoring early in the first period and Afinogenov tallied less than three minutes into the third for Buffalo, which has won six of its last eight games.

"This was like one of those games we used to play about five or six years ago, where one bad bounce could kill you," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "We got some big saves from Miller in the end, and that was enough."

Nikolai Khabibulin made 27 saves for the Blackhawks, who had won five of their previous eight home meetings with the Sabres.

"They are very good and handle the puck very well," Khabibulin said of Buffalo's offense. "They might not have played their best game, but they have a great mix of speed and size. We played some good defense on them but couldn't get the win."

Buffalo took a 1-0 lead just 4:47 into the contest on Hecht's 11th goal of the season. After receiving a pass from the right faceoff circle by Jason Pominville, Hecht had his first shot stopped but buried the rebound from the left side of the net.

The tally held up through a scoreless middle session before Afinogenov doubled the lead at 2:56 of the third. Carrying down the right wing, the Russian got below the faceoff circle before surprising Khabibulin with a shot, firing the puck between the goaltender's pads for his 20th in 38 contests this campaign.

"I was just waiting for a hole to open up, and when it did, I shot it," Afinogenov said. "At first, I didn't see anything and nobody was celebrating. Then we started celebrating, so I knew it went in."

Afinogenov, who finished fourth among forwards in voting for the All-Star Game, scored a career-high 22 goals in 77 games last season.

Chicago managed to avoid being blanked for the fifth time this season despite having Dustin Byfuglien in the penalty box for holding an opponent's stick.

"I was in possession of the puck, but they had my stick, which is why I was kicking the puck with my feet," the rookie defenseman said. "I am not happy with the call, but there is nothing I can do about it."

The Sabres received a scare when co-captain Chris Drury returned to the locker room after being hit by teammate Jaroslav Spacek's shot less than eight minutes into the game. However, Drury returned to action midway through the second and did not miss any more time.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUFFALO 1 0 1 2
    CHICAGO 0 0 1 1 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: BUF - JOCHEN HECHT 11 (JASON POMINVILLE, DANIEL BRIERE) 4:47
    2ND PRD: NONE
    3RD PRD: BUF - MAXIM AFINOGENOV 20 (THOMAS VANEK, DEREK ROY) 2:56
    CHI - (SH) DENIS ARKHIPOV 6 (UNASSISTED) 19:10
    POWER-PLAY CONVERSIONS: BUF -

    Jan 10 10:35 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 2
    CHICAGO 1
    3RD PRD: CHI - (SH) DENIS ARKHIPOV 6 (UNASSISTED) 19:10

    Sabres vs. BlackhawksJan 10 10:33 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 2
    CHICAGO 0
    3RD PRD: BUF - MAXIM AFINOGENOV 20 (THOMAS VANEK, DEREK ROY) 2:56

    Sabres vs. BlackhawksJan 10 10:06 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUFFALO 1 0 1
    CHICAGO 0 0 0 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: BUF - JOCHEN HECHT 11 (JASON POMINVILLE, DANIEL BRIERE) 4:47
    2ND PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUF 12 10 22
    CHI 10 10 20
    GOALIES: BUF

    Jan 10 9:42 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUFFALO 1 1
    CHICAGO 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: BUF - (PP) JOCHEN HECHT 11 (JASON POMINVILLE, DANIEL BRIERE)
    4:47
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    BUF 12 12
    CHI 10 10
    GOALIES: BUF - RYAN MI

    Jan 10 8:48 PM


  • NHL
    BUFFALO 1
    CHICAGO 0
    1ST PRD: BUF - (PP) JOCHEN HECHT 11 (JASON POMINVILLE, DANIEL BRIERE)
    4:47

    Sabres vs. BlackhawksJan 10 8:20 PM