Ryan Miller has been with the Sabers for parts of 12 seasons, so here are 12 key moments in the Sabers’ career:
1. NHL debut, November 19, 2002: Miller was distraught after losing 4-3 overtime in New Jersey. And he had good reason, working to shut down the game for 43 minutes before giving up three goals in the third period and losing at 1:23 of overtime on a goal by future Hall of Famer Scott Niedermayer.
2. Taking a Wrinkle, Dec. 19, 2005: Miller stopped 33 of 34 shots through overtime and earned a 2-1 victory over Philadelphia in his first game in nearly two months after sustaining a broken thumb. He started a stretch as Miller went 19-4-2 and ensured he would be the starting point guard for the rest of his years in Buffalo.
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3. First playoff game on April 30, 2006: Miller stops all 24 shots he faced to beat Philadelphia 3-0 and give the Sabers a 3-2 lead going into the first round in an NBC-televised game played at the bustling HSBC Arena.
4. Star Power. January 24, 2007: Miller joined Daniel Breer, Brian Campbell, and Coach Lindy Ruff for the All-Star Game in Dallas. It was the first time the Sabers had three reps since 1990. The East won 12-9 as Brier was named Player of the Night by five points. Miller allowed three goals in his game.
5. Hard Loss, May 19, 2007: Miller was defeated by Daniel Alfredsson in overtime as Ottawa won Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final 3-2 at HSBC Arena to win the series. Briere and Chris Drury leave in free agency after two months and there are three more years before the Sabers return to the playoffs.
6. Stick game: That was NBC anchor Mike Emerick’s call when Miller was approached by Sidney Crosby during a shootout at the All Winter Classic at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Crosby sliced the puck between Miller’s legs to give Pittsburgh a 2-1 win in the snow in front of a then-NHL record crowd of 71,217. It came in the midst of a nine-game losing streak that was Miller’s worst of his career, and he was particularly frustrated as he went 0-4 in a shootout down the stretch.
7. Gold turns into silver: Crosby beat Miller in overtime of the gold medal game at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, but Miller was named MVP of the tournament—and earned a standing ovation in Pittsburgh a few days later when he was introduced during a break in the game. In a handshake line, Team Canada assistant coach and Sabers coach Lindy Ruff said to his goalie, “Let’s go win the cup.”
8. Miracle Preservation Still Not Enough, April 21, 2010: Miller made one of the most amazing saves of his career Game 4 of the Sabers’ first-round series in Boston, he dived to his left to stop former Buffalo winger Miroslav Satan’s gloved shot in overtime. But the Devils would score in the second round of overtime and the Sabers would lose the series in six games, a disappointing end to a season in which Buffalo won the Northeast Division.
9. Vezina: Miller won his only award as an outstanding goalie in the NHL on June 23, 2010, receiving 28 of 30 first-place votes. He set a franchise record and ranked fourth among goaltenders in the NHL with 41 wins, ranked second in GAA (2.22) and save percentage (0.929) and tied for a career high with five shutouts.
10. Last time, April 24, 2011: Miller made 44 saves, but the Sabers would lose Game 6 of the first round series in overtime to Philadelphia 6-5 at HSBC Arena. To date, it is Buffalo’s last Stanley Cup playoff game. Miller had stopped 68 of 71 shots in the previous two games, including 32 saves, as the Sabers took a 3-2 series lead. Buffalo lost Game 7 in Philly and has not yet played in the postseason since.
11. The Strike, November 12, 2011: you remember. Miller. Milan Lucic. Shipping. There is not much response. The 6-2 loss came in Boston and sent the Sabers’ season on a downward spiral from which they never recovered. Miller sat out two weeks with a concussion.
12. The ultimate game and trade. Miller made 36 saves in his final game as a Saber, a 3-2 win over Carolina on February 25, 2014. Three days later, with the trade deadline approaching, Miller was dealt, along with captain Steve Ott.