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Sabres have more than luck going for them against Islanders

The Sabres goalie didn't buy the notion that Buffalo is suddenly relying on luck to take control of its playoff series against the New York Islanders. The Isles can complain all they want about two contentious goals that went against them in consecutive games this week. But Miller maintained Thursday that the Sabres have done more than enough to deserve to be up 3-1 in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-finals.

"I know the Islanders are livid and trying to get their guys fired up about something," Miller said after a brief practice. "But I just think the series should be defined by more than that.

"I don't truly believe in luck. I think we've gotten some breaks and it's because we've been working hard."

The two teams have certainly kept NHL video replay officials busy in a series that the top-seeded Sabres can end in Game 5 on Friday night.

It began during Game 3 on Monday night, when a video review ruled Sabres Thomas Vanek's shot dribbled in over the goal line in Buffalo's 3-2 victory. Then came Buffalo's 4-2 win Wednesday night, when the Islanders had a potential tying goal disallowed with 1:42 remaining when referee Mike Leggo ruled Miller was pushed into the goal with the puck underneath him. Leggo's decision was upheld by replay officials in Toronto.

"The timing of it stinks for them," Miller said. "But it's worked out for us and we have to take advantage."

Islanders coach Ted Nolan said the team has to move on from the disallowed goal and prepare for the next game.

"That's water under the bridge," Nolan said. "As far as we're concerned, that was a goal but, hey, what can you do about it?"

The Islanders have little time to regroup if they plan to force Game 6, which would be at Long Island on Sunday night, and avoid losing their fifth consecutive first-round playoff series. New York hasn't advanced past the first round since reaching the conference final in 1993.

The key is forgetting what happened Wednesday.

"We can't sit around here and feel sorry for ourselves," goalie Rick DiPietro said. "Now it's up to us.

"We have three games left and we have to win all three."

The Islanders have shown resilience this season, dramatically sneaking into the playoffs by winning their final four games. And the Isles have shown few signs of wilting against a Sabres opponent that led the league with 53 wins and 308 goals.

Buffalo has outscored New York 13-8 so far, including a 4-1 win in Game 1. And neither team has had more than a one-goal lead entering the third period in each of the four games.

"We haven't been able to put them away. And every game has been a challenge," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "We want to end this series, but we know how incredibly hard it can be."

The Sabres have the edge in part because of their speedy, talented and deep lineup. Each of their four lines have accounted for at least a goal, led by co-captain Chris Drury, who has scored four, including two game-winners. They've also had four goals scored by defencemen.

Buffalo has also been stifling at times on defence. After limiting New York to a franchise playoff-low one shot in the first period of Game 1, the Sabres held the Isles to two shots in the third period of Game 3.

"We have a right to feel good about ourselves," Miller said. "We have a right to smile a little bit.

"But we have to put in a lot of hard work. You don't say, '3-1, series over.' "

A win Friday would allow the Sabres to clinch a series on home ice for the first time since winning Game 6 of a first-round series against Philadelphia in 2001.


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