BUFFALO, N.Y. – Ryan Miller can’t wait for the NHL regular season to begin.
The Buffalo goalie made nine of his 23 saves in the third period to help the Sabres beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 in exhibition play Wednesday night. Miller had a 42-save performance Saturday in Detroit, and appears to be ready for games that count.
“I’ve had two games that have worked out pretty well,” Miller said. “At a certain point, you want to play for two points. It’s good to tune your game up, but you like the games to mean something.”
“He seems like he’s in mid-season form,” added forward Jason Pominville, who assisted on Buffalo’s first goal. “I can’t wait to see him when we get to the middle of the season.”
Nathan Paetsch, Jochen Hecht and Cody McCormick scored for Buffalo (3-0-1), which played its second and final home game of the pre-season.
Jiri Tlusty scored on a penalty shot and John Mitchell added a goal for Toronto (4-2-0). Joey MacDonald made 28 saves.
Paetsch and Hecht scored in a four-minute span early in the second period to put Buffalo up 2-0. Paetsch scored during a delayed penalty, firing a slap shot from the high slot. Hecht’s shot from the left faceoff circle got through MacDonald’s legs.
Tlusty’s score, midway through the second period, pulled Toronto to 2-1. Miller made the initial save off Tlusty’s backhand, but the puck trickled through.
“I didn’t mean to do that, but I count every goal,” Tlusty said. “It doesn’t matter how it went in.”
McCormick put Buffalo up 3-1 on a swat of a loose puck late in the second period, but Mitchell, 94 seconds into the third, made it 3-2 on a tap-in from the slot.
Toronto outshot Buffalo 10-2 in the third period, but couldn’t get the equalizer past Miller.
“We were putting it to them pretty good in the third period,” MacDonald said.
Buffalo concludes its pre-season schedule with road games in Montreal on Saturday and Toronto on Sunday.
The Maple Leafs have three games left. They will visit Detroit on Friday before hosting Detroit and Buffalo on Saturday and Sunday.