FLYERS SPARKPLUG Danny Briere, a former Sabre, this week called Ryan Miller the league's best goalie.

Peter Laviolette, Briere's coach, made sure to note that Miller wasn't the league's only good goalie.

Last night, Briere's analysis looked more accurate than his boss'.

Miller, by far the brightest star on a team without many, logged his second shutout in 41 playoff games. He stopped all 35 Flyers shots in Buffalo's 1-0 win in the first game of the teams' Eastern Conference quarterfinal.

"Their goaltender played well tonight," allowed Laviolette.

"Miller made some great saves," offered Briere, himself denied by Miller three times.

"Yeah, that wasn't a bad game for 'Millsy' tonight," said Sabres defenseman Chris Butler, wryly. "When he's focused, when he's healthy, he's great."

Miller was focused and healthy earning a silver medal and the tournament MVP at the Winter Olympics last year. He was focused and healthy as he won the Vezina Trophy in his All-Star campaign of 2009-2010.

Last night, Miller endured a suffocating second period that included a five-on-three kill and a point-blank shot from Flyers assassin Jeff Carter.

"He was locked in," said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff.

Ruff was not certain Miller would be sharp, or just rusty.

As this season waned, Miller missed four games with an upper-body injury. He then played only parts of the last two games simply to resharpen his skills.

It worked.

"I told myself, no matter what happened out there, I was going to stay contained and cool," Miller said, dead-eyed.

He didn't seem cool or contained when Flyers captain Mike Richards took a shot at Mike Weber in Miller's crease 4 minutes into the game. After Weber retaliated, Miller, 6-2 and Ichabod-slim at 175 pounds, took a swipe at Richards himself.

"I think it did" set a tone, Ruff said. "We said we were not going to allow them near our paint."