ATLANTA – Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller loves these kind of games: the Sabres build a comfortable lead, his teammates play tight defence and Miller only faces a few shots.
“We stayed ready,” Miller said. “We knew Atlanta had some shooters and that they would get their chances later. We dictated the pace.”
Tyler Myers and Cody McCormick scored early in the second period, and Miller made 17 saves to help the Sabres end a five-game winless streak with a 4-1 victory over the Thrashers on Wednesday night.
Tyler Ennis and Thomas Vanek also scored for Buffalo. The Sabres, the defending Northeast Division champions, were 0-4-1 since winning their opener at Ottawa.
“It was a great effort,” said Miller, last season’s Vezina Trophy winner and an Olympic star. “We got ourselves going early. That was the big difference.”
Tobias Enstrom scored for Atlanta. The Thrashers, outshot 42-18, had won two straight.
Myers gave the Sabres a 2-0 lead six seconds into a power play and 1:30 into the second with a slap shot from the blue-line. McCormick scored 1:04 later on a short wrister after goalie Chris Mason lost control of a rebound.
“Buffalo is a hard working team, which is somewhat of the identity we want to take on, and we didn’t do that tonight,” Mason said. “Neutral-zone issues—teams like Buffalo will keep coming at you and take advantage of your mistakes.”
Atlanta cut it to 3-1 on defenceman Enstrom’s second goal, a slap shot on the power play, but the Thrashers’ offence was otherwise dismal.
“Attention to detail was almost non-existent,” Atlanta coach Craig Ramsay said. “We had a couple of days off, we had two good practices and there’s no reason for them not to come and be able to play.”
Vanek scored on a breakaway with 9:35 left in the third.
Ennis opened the scoring in the first period with a wrist shot.
“I think from start to finish, we were on top of the puck,” Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. “It was nice to see some opportunities go in.”
After going 1-12-3 in their previous 16 games at Philips Arena, the Sabres pressured the Atlanta defence all night, a formula they’ve used to outshoot opponents 119-65 in three road games.
“We didn’t do anything to make (Miller) work,” Mason said. “We didn’t test him.”
Thrashers forward Ben Eager received a double minor for high-sticking penalty that gave Steve Montador a cut on the bridge of his nose late in the third.
Buffalo didn’t immediately list the condition of Montador, who blocked his 21st shot of the season. He began the game tied with Chicago’s Nick Boynton for the NHL lead with 20.
Defenceman Chris Butler added two assists for the Sabres.
Notes: Sabres C Derek Roy assisted on Myers’ goal for his 27th point in 23 career games against Atlanta. … Ennis has five points this season. … Buffalo RW Jason Pominville (concussion) missed his fourth straight game. … Thrashers D Zach Bogosian (shoulder) missed his third in a row. … Sabres D Shaone Morrisonn (groin) has been out three straight. … Atlanta D Niclas Bergfors, the central player acquired in the deal that sent Ilya Kovalchuk to New Jersey last season, was a healthy scratch for the second time in three games.