Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series tied 2-2

Game 1: Friday, December 17th
Game 2: Thursday, December 23rd
Game 3: Thursday, February 10th
Game 4: Friday, March 25th

Panthers 4

(16-17-0, 32 pts)

Sabres 3

(14-17-4, 32 pts)

7:00 PM ET, December 23, 2010

First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York

1 2 3 T
FLA 3 0 14
BUF 0 3 03

C. Higgins (Panthers - LW): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

J. Leopold (Sabres - D): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

J. Garrison (Panthers - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Panthers-Sabres Preview


Ryan Miller is on the cusp of a milestone, and his play at home along with the rest of the Buffalo Sabres indicates he should reach it quickly. He didn't play very well, however, the last time he faced the Florida Panthers

Miller should be in net again trying for win No. 200 when the Sabres host the Panthers on Thursday night.

Miller's 199 victories rank second in team history to Dominik Hasek's 234. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner has started 25 of Buffalo's 34 games, going 12-10-3 with a 2.49 goals-against average, a .915 save percentage and two shutouts.

He started his 11th consecutive game Tuesday, making 21 saves in a 5-2 win over Anaheim. The performance gave him eight wins in his last nine games at HSBC Arena. He has a 2.08 GAA and a .928 save percentage in those contests.

The Sabres (14-16-4) have ridden Miller to success at home after losing their first seven games of the season there. They would appear to be in strong position to keep the surge going with a visit from Florida (15-17-0), as they've won seven of their last nine home meetings in this series.

However, Buffalo lost 6-2 on the road to the Panthers on Friday, when Miller gave up four goals on 10 shots and was pulled after the first period.

Miller is 4-2-0 with a 2.67 GAA at home against Florida, while veteran backup Patrick Lalime has also had success with an 8-3-0 record and 2.05 GAA in 12 overall meetings.

Sabres captain Craig Rivet will try to contribute for a second consecutive game. The defenseman scored a goal and set up Nathan Gerbe's first of the season after missing his previous last 11 games as a healthy scratch.

"There's been a lot of mixed emotions that I've had over the last month or so," Rivet said. "But those are things I'm going to work through. That's the type of person that I am. I was battling some tough situations. I'm happy that I was able to come out and help our team a little bit. If I can continue that, it's all I can ask for."

The Panthers will try to get off to a better start than in Wednesday's 5-2 loss at Pittsburgh. They gave up two goals in the opening 2:43 and trailed 3-1 midway through the first period.

"To spot a team three goals -- any team -- before you kind of get your game going, it's tough, let alone against these guys," said Scott Clemmensen, who allowed one goal on 19 shots after replacing Tomas Vokoun in the first period. "It just became too much for us to climb out of."

Vokoun may be back in net. He made 41 stops to beat the Sabres last week, and followed it up with a 26-save shutout in a 5-0 win at Atlantic Division-leading Philadelphia three days later.

He's 2-6-1 with a 2.98 GAA in his last nine games against the Sabres, and made 35 saves in a 6-2 loss at Buffalo on March 31.

Clemmensen is 2-0-0 with a 3.04 GAA in four games versus the Sabres.