Losing three of four has cooled the Northeast Division-leading Buffalo Sabres, so the return of Ryan Miller might be just what they need.
Miller figures to be back in net Wednesday night when the Sabres try to avoid a season-high third straight loss in a matchup with the visiting Edmonton Oilers.
Buffalo (9-4-1) opened this season 8-1-1 to climb to the top of the Northeast after missing the playoffs for a second consecutive time last season.
The Sabres, however, haven't been quite as sharp lately. They've dropped three of four after falling 4-2 at Boston on Saturday following Friday's 5-2 defeat to Philadelphia. Despite those two losses, Buffalo and New Jersey are tied with a league-best 33 goals allowed.
"The greater issue is our game has lacked energy the last three games," coach Lindy Ruff said. "I think the old me might have gone irate and done something a little bit stranger."
Ruff will likely insert Miller after he was rested in favor of Jhonas Enroth, who made 33 saves in his NHL debut Saturday.
Miller has been a big reason for Buffalo's success, ranking among the league leaders with a 9-2-1 record and a 1.89 goals-against average while recording two shutouts in 12 games.
The goaltender, however, didn't fare too well in his last start, giving up a season-high four goals on 36 shots against the Flyers. He should get a chance to improve on that against Edmonton (8-8-2).
Miller has helped the Sabres win their last three meetings with the Oilers, posting a 1.33 GAA. Buffalo hasn't lost to Edmonton since a 4-1 road loss Oct. 16, 2003.
The Sabres took the lone matchup last season on Jan. 27, as Miller made 36 stops and Drew Stafford notched a hat trick to spur a 10-2 victory at Edmonton.
The Oilers are 2-6-1 since a 6-2-1 start but the team feels it's showing improvement after Tuesday's 4-3 shootout loss at Ottawa. That came two nights after a 5-3 win over NHL-leading Colorado snapped a five-game road losing streak.
"It was probably our best three periods in a long time, and we maybe (could have) had a better result but we didn't," coach Pat Quinn said. "And in the shootout we couldn't score.
"I don't like the goals that went in on us again ... But overall, thinking in terms of improvement, we were a little better in Colorado than we have been and this was a better effort. Hopefully that will continue."
Jeff Deslauriers made 22 saves in a rare start Tuesday, paving the way for Nikolai Khabibulin to return Wednesday. Khabibulin, who ended a personal three-game skid with 34 saves against Colorado, has a 1.39 GAA in his last five starts against Buffalo.
Dustin Penner has been one of the bright spots for the Oilers this season, leading the team with 11 goals and 22 points after posting 17 and 37, respectively, all last season. The left wing has a goal in each of the last two games, while also getting an assist against the Avalanche.
Penner saw all seven of his shots stopped by Miller on Jan. 27, failing to record a point in his only game against Buffalo.