BUFFALO, N.Y. – Sabres starting goalie Ryan Miller is out indefinitely because of a high ankle sprain after he was upended behind the net in Buffalo’s 4-2 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday night.
Fully dressed, except for a bare left foot, and walking with a significant limp following the game, Miller said his left ankle was still stiff, but tests taken immediately after the game showed there was no break. Miller didn’t know how much time he would miss, saying he’ll know more once the swelling subsides.
“These are kind of things you have to feel out. There’s really no timetable,” Miller said. “It’s really your comfort level. Right now I want to get through the night and into the morning to see how my body reacts.”
Miller’s injury overshadowed what was a key win by the Sabres, who moved into a three-way tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings with the Rangers and Florida Panthers, who beat Boston on Saturday. All three teams have 68 points in holding down the conference’s final three playoff spots, three points ahead of Carolina.
Now Buffalo will have to continue its late-season playoff push without Miller, who stopped all 20 shots he faced and improved to 29-16-5. Patrick Lalime, who allowed two goals on 13 shots, will take over as the starter, and the Sabres will have to call up a goalie – likely untested rookie Jhonas Enroth – from the minors to take over as backup.
Miller was hurt 1:54 into the third period as he was trying to play the puck behind his net during a Rangers’ power play with the Sabres ahead 3-0. With his back to the play, Miller was upended when Rangers forward Scott Gomez crashed into the goalie’s right leg, sending Miller tumbling into the boards.
Having difficulty standing up, Miller crawled back into his crease on his pads before play was stopped.
Gomez wasn’t called for a penalty on the play.
Miller remained on his knees as he was attended to by a Sabres trainer before leaving the game. He had difficulty putting any weight on his left leg as he limped up the tunnel to the locker room.
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was unhappy with the hit, accusing Gomez of deliberately crashing into Miller.
“I don’t think there’s any secret it was deliberate,” Ruff said. “He knew what he was doing.”
Gomez called the hit as unfortunate, saying he lost his balance.
“I stopped and kind of lost my balance and we ran into each other,” Gomez said. “I don’t know what happened.”
Miller gave Gomez the benefit of the doubt.
“I know Scott personally, and I don’t think he would ever come in and try to injure me, especially when I’m not facing the play,” Miller said. “He’s not that kind of guy.”