Kicking himself for giving up a soft goal, Miller was quick to
celebrate when Briere scored less than a minute later and helped
preserve Buffalo's 6-4 season-opening victory over the New York
Islanders on Wednesday night.
"It wasn't very smart," Miller said, describing how he allowed
Alexei Zhitnik to score on a dump-in from center ice.
Coming out to play the shot, which appeared to be going wide of
the net, Miller was fooled when the puck took a weird bounce and
sneaked in through his legs.
"I was actually trying to be safe by playing it ahead of the
line and I just kind of blew it," added Miller, who stopped 22
The goal midway through the third period cut the Sabres' lead to
4-3. Briere, however, responded 45 seconds later, banging in a
rebound off Islanders defenseman Brent Sopel and over fallen
goaltender Rick DiPietro.
"That's the kind of leader we have in Danny right there, he's
not going to be rattled by anything," Miller said. "It feels
good. That's why I'm smiling right now. I'm not going to be too
hard on myself when we win."
Miller, who got the start in place of incumbent Martin Biron,
won his seventh career game and ended a four-game losing streak
dating to Feb. 19, 2003.
Briere had two goals and an assist, Maxim Afinogenov scored
twice, including an empty-netter, J.P Dumont had a goal and an
assist and Brian Campbell also scored as the Sabres never trailed.
Buffalo ended a seven-game losing streak against the Islanders,
dating to March 7, 2002.
Zhitnik and forward Miroslav Satan were booed every time they
touched the puck in their Islanders' debut while playing against
their former team.
"I'm wearing the wrong jersey, that's the normal reaction,"
said Satan, who spent seven-plus seasons in Buffalo before signing
with New York last August.
"I'll take it," Zhitnik said, referring to his goal. "Whether
you score from 10 feet, 50 feet or 200 feet, it's OK."
Islanders coach Steve Stirling credited the Sabres for playing
more as a team in creating chances.
"We tried to carry the puck while they moved it and caught up
to it with their speed," Stirling said. "Our guys tried to do too
much by themselves."
The Sabres outshot the Islanders 39-26 and capitalized on two of
12 power-play chances.
After Buffalo squandered two one-goal leads, Campbell put the
Sabres ahead 3-2 with 4 minutes left in the second period. Buffalo
was pressing when Chris Drury got to a loose puck behind the New
York net. Driving around the other side, Drury fed a pass into the
high slot where Campbell snapped it in.
If not for DiPietro, the game could've gotten out of hand
sooner. He stopped 24 shots through two periods, his best stop
coming late in the first period when he dived across the crease and
got his glove out to bat down Tim Connolly's shot.
Islanders RW Arron Asham was scratched because of a rib
injury. ... Sabres D Dmitri Kalinin (groin) did not play. ...
Campoli's goal was the first of his career and came in the first
NHL game for the 2004 seventh-round pick. ... Dumont has scored a
goal in three of the Sabres' last five season openers.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: First Niagara Center Location: Buffalo, New York
Referees: Tom Kowal, Kevin Pollock Linesmen: Derek Amell, Brad Kovachik