The Devils finally broke through against the former Michigan
State star with three goals in the third, setting the stage for
Scott Niedermayer's game-winner Tuesday night.
Niedermayer scored 1:23 into overtime to give New Jersey a 4-3
victory that extended Buffalo's winless streak to 12 games. The
Sabres' 0-9-2-1 skid equals the club record set in 1991.
On the game-winner, Brian Rafalski passed the puck to
Niedermayer between the circles. His shot appeared to deflect off
defenseman Alexei Zhitnik and Miller.
''It was exciting,'' Niedermayer said. ''I just jumped on the
ice and followed the play up. Everybody crashed the net and Brian
threw it out and I was able to put it in the net. The goalie was a
little out of position and was racing back to the net.''
Miller, making his NHL debut, looked solid through the first two
periods as the Sabres built a 2-0 lead in a strong bid to end the
winless streak. But he struggled in the third period and overtime
as the Devils applied relentless pressure.
''I got back up as quickly as I could,'' said Miller, who lunged
out of position on Niedermayer's goal. ''The puck hit my pad and
stick. He managed to go top shelf.''
Miller showed poise in the opening period. The lanky netminder
made his first save 5 minutes into the game as gloved a blue-line
shot from Madden. Miller made seven more stops in the period.
Gratton gave Miller some breathing room in the second with his
team-leading eighth goal at 12:51. Gratton scored on a shot from
the top of the right circle that appeared to graze Devils
defenseman Scott Stevens on its way past Brodeur.
The Devils came away impressed by Miller's poise.
''He looked really sharp at the beginning of the game,'' Madden
said. ''He wasn't sure of some things so he started coming out of
his net really, really far. I think the defense did a good job
hiding some of his deficiencies coming out of the net.''
Yet the Sabres are still searching for that elusive victory.
''We played a pretty sound game,'' Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.
''We didn't give up a lot and it's unfortunate.''
With Miller getting the start, Mika Noronen was scratched
and Martin Biron served as the backup. ... Winger Jamie
Langenbrunner, the Devils' leading goal scorer, missed the game
with a stomach virus. Craig Darby, recalled from Albany of the AHL,
took his place in the lineup. ... Tverdovsky returned to action for
New Jersey after missing one game with a sore back.