It was, as Brad Boyes put it, a bit scrambly for the Buffalo Sabres in the late going. Pucks were creeping toward their goal line, opponents were getting wide open in front. The Madison Square Garden crowd was rocking, and the New York Rangers were rolling.
The Sabres, though, had Ryan Miller and a big enough cushion to hold them off.
The Sabres stretched their unbeaten streak to four games Tuesday night, leaving the Big Apple with a 3-2 victory. It wasn't easy. If this was the type of game that will be played every night down the stretch, Sabres fans had better get used to nail-biters.
The Sabres scored twice on the power play, including one by Boyes in his first game. They got a third-period goal by Jochen Hecht that built a 3-1 lead. It almost wasn't enough. The Rangers climbed to within one, but Miller turned aside the rest of their chances to give Buffalo a boost in the standings.
"That was great. The two points we needed," Boyes said. "Special teams are obviously very important, and we did a good job. Millsie back there made some huge saves for us. It was scrambly a bit in the third, but we found a way to win. That's important as we go on forward.
"As we get into the playoffs, it's about finding ways to win. We did that."
The win inched them closer to a playoff spot. They climbed within three points of the seventh-place Rangers with three games in hand. Eighth-place Carolina also won, keeping the Sabres two points back.
That will change soon. The Sabres boarded their charter after the game and flew to Carolina for Thursday's vital matchup with the Hurricanes. It will be the first of three meetings in the final six weeks of the season, and the head-to-head contests could go a long way toward determining whether the playoffs come to either organization.
The Sabres go south feeling good about their game. They improved to 3-0-1 in their last four and moved to 7-1 in the past eight road contests.
"We held on tough," Miller said. "It was important not to give them anything."
Miller certainly didn't once the game got to 3-2. His biggest sequence came with 6:20 remaining. He stopped Mats Zuccarello's first shot, and when the rebound attempt trickled past Miller and headed toward the goal line, the netminder reached back and swiped it to safety.
"He definitely made the saves when we needed them," coach Lindy Ruff said.
Miller got a boost from teammates who scored the opening two goals and never allowed a tying one.
Miller has last word in Broadway thriller
Buffalo News | Mar 2