BUFFALO, N.Y. – In a matchup between two of the best goalies in the NHL, Ryan Miller didn’t blink.
Jason Pominville scored the winner in the fourth round of the shootout, and Miller made 25 saves to help the Buffalo Sabres beat Calgary 2-1 on Friday night, snapping the Flames’ winning streak at four games.
Miller, owner of the NHL’s best goals-against average, wound up besting Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff – who entered with a minuscule 0.99 GAA in his last four games – after first denying Calgary captain Jarome Iginla’s third-round shootout attempt.
That stop opened the door for Pominville’s winner, a wrist shot that beat Kiprusoff between the legs. Miller then calmly turned aside Rene Bourque’s chance, securing the bonus point for Buffalo.
“They’re two elite goalies and two of the best in the league,” Pominville said. “They both made big saves. That’s what you expect when you play guys like (Kiprusoff), and that’s what we expect in Ryan as well. He’s been huge for us all season, and it’s only the start. I can’t wait to see what it’s like later on.”
After Derek Roy scored in the second round of the shootout, Calgary’s Olli Jokinen countered to help set up Pominville’s dramatics.
“He was taking the glove side away,” Pominville said. “He put his glove pretty high, so five-hole was the shot to go. It ended up working.”
Roy scored in regulation for the Sabres (11-4-1), who won for the seventh time in 10 home games this season. Buffalo and New Jersey have both allowed a league-low 35 goals.
“I think any goalie in the league, if he’s playing good hockey, it’s probably because his team is playing with a strong sense of awareness,” Miller said. “It’s not just that I feel good in the net, it’s because the guys are giving me the opportunity to make smart reads.”
Both goalies kept their teams in it during the first two periods. Kiprusoff turned aside 17 Buffalo shots in the first period, and Miller made 12 saves in the second period to keep the game deadlocked at 1-1.
After peppering Kiprusoff with 18 first-period attempts, the Sabres had only three in the second period, with their first shot coming with 4 1/2 minutes remaining.
“It was a close game,” said Kiprusoff, who made 32 saves in his 15th start of the season. “They came hard from the first period, but in the second and third we played better. They were just better in the shootout.”
Daymond Langkow scored for Calgary (11-4-2), which lost for the first time on the road in exactly a month, and have dropped seven straight in Buffalo.
“It was physical, and it was a fun game to be a part of,” Flames captain Jarome Iginla said. “We were looking forward to this challenge to keep our string going because the Sabres have a good record. Unfortunately it didn’t end the way we wanted it to.”
The Sabres had a chance to win it in overtime when they obtained the man advantage after Jokinen tripped Tyler Myers with 2:31 left, but the Flames were able to kill off the penalty.
Calgary opened the scoring on Langkow’s sixth goal of the season just 1:04 into the game. From in tight Langkow converted a quick pass from Nigel Dawes to make it 1-0.
Roy countered on the power play with 3:06 left in the first, swatting a rolling puck with a backhand that went over a sprawled Kiprusoff.
The Sabres were without gritty forward Mike Grier, who is day-to-day with a groin injury.
Notes: Buffalo is 5-0 against Western Conference teams this season. … The Sabres are 9-1-1 in their last 11 home games against the Flames. … Miller has started all but two games this season. … Kiprusoff played in his 400th career NHL game. … Flames forward Curtis Glencross served the second game of a three-game suspension handed out after he knocked out Rangers centre Chris Drury with a blow to the head. … Calgary has scored first in 14 of its 17 games.