In his first appearance for the Buffalo Sabres since leading the United States to an Olympic silver medal, Ryan Miller picked up right where he left off with another stellar game. Unfortunately, Buffalo was unable to provide the same offensive support he enjoyed in Vancouver.
The punchless Sabres hope the addition of forward Raffi Torres can help their sluggish offense get on track Friday night when they host the Philadelphia Flyers.
Despite allowing an overtime goal to Sidney Crosby in a 3-2 loss to Canada in Sunday's gold-medal game, Miller was still selected the tournament MVP after posting a 5-1 record with a 1.35 goals-against average in the Olympics.
Miller became an instant hero for the U.S. and received a 45-second standing ovation from the hometown fans before Wednesday's game against Washington. He continued his impressive play from the Olympics by stopping 37 of 39 shots against the high-powered Capitals, but it wasn't enough as the Sabres lost 3-1.
Buffalo (33-20-9) is fifth in the Eastern Conference -- six points ahead of sixth-place Philadelphia (33-26-3) -- but has been slumping, going 1-6-2 since Feb. 1.
"It's frustrating," said Miller, who didn't play in Tuesday's 3-2 loss at Pittsburgh. "It comes down to attitude. The attitude can't be, 'We hope we're going to win, we hope we're going to do our jobs so we don't get yelled at.' It's got to be take control, dictate play, and trusting the system."
Miller is among the league leaders in GAA (2.16) and save percentage (.931), and is regarded as the key to the Sabres' chances of making a deep playoff run this season. Still, to become a legitimate playoff threat, Buffalo needs its offense to come to life.
The Sabres have scored two goals or fewer in nine of the last 13 games, averaging 2.2 goals in that span. In the Olympics, Miller was backed by an offense that averaged 4.0 goals.
In a bid to shake up the team and bolster its offense, Buffalo acquired Torres from Columbus for a second-round draft pick before Wednesday's trade deadline. With 19 goals this season, Torres immediately becomes the Sabres' leading scorer.
Even with Torres expected to play on the same line with Derek Roy and Jason Pominville, Buffalo's offense could still run into trouble against a Philadelphia team that has been playing well defensively, its last game notwithstanding.
The Flyers' five-game winning streak was snapped with Wednesday's 7-4 loss to Florida, the first time in 10 games the team allowed more than two goals.
Despite Philadelphia's disappointing defensive performance, the offense again came out strong and has amassed 17 goals in the last three games.
Jeff Carter notched his team-leading 29th goal Wednesday and has scored in six consecutive games, tying New Jersey's Zach Parise, Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos and Ottawa's Jason Spezza for the longest streak this season. The Flyers center has 10 goals in his last 11 games against the Sabres, but only one in three meetings this season.
Miller has stopped 60 of 64 shots in winning the last two games against the Flyers -- both in Philadelphia -- after allowing four goals in a 5-2 home loss Nov. 6. The Sabres have lost four straight to the Flyers in Buffalo since a 3-2 win Dec. 21, 2007.