Ryan Miller is on the cusp of setting a Buffalo Sabres record, but the team’s disappointing season is casting a damper on that accomplishment.
Miller figures to be in net Saturday night trying to become the Sabres’ career wins leader when they face the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.
Miller’s 234 wins tie him with Dominic Hasek for the most in team history.
“Just hoping to get it,” said Miller, the 2009-10 Vezina Trophy winner. “One game at a time.”
Miller has reason to be cautious, as the Sabres (21-24-6) are severely underachieving after entering the season as a favorite to win the Northeast Division. Instead, they’re just one point ahead of Montreal and Carolina for the fewest in the Eastern Conference.
“There’s not a lot of hype or fanfare about it right now just because of where we’re at,” Miller said of the franchise wins record. “I feel like it’s a nice accomplishment, something to look back on. But I understand why right now it feels like it’s not quite as exciting or intriguing.”
Miller’s season has also been trying with a 13-15-3 record and 2.89 goals-against average. However, he’s been tremendous over the last three games, going 2-0-1 while yielding two goals on 85 shots.
“I feel like I’ve got myself in a better place mentally and physically,” Miller said. “My game is really close to where I want it. I’m just trying to keep it there and hold it there.”
Miller was superb Wednesday, but his attempt to break the wins record was foiled by a slightly better performance from Henrik Lundqvist in a 1-0 shootout loss to the New York Rangers. Miller finished with 29 saves through overtime, but gave up two goals in the five-round tiebreaker while Lundqvist surrendered one after stopping all 34 shots through OT.
“It was fun to be a part of. I haven’t had too many good outings in the last few months,” Miller said.
He hasn’t faced the Islanders (21-22-7) this season, as backup Jhonas Enroth lost both meetings. Miller wasn’t any better the last time he faced the Isles, making 19 saves in a 7-6 overtime loss Feb. 13.
While Miller is showing he can still carry the load in net, Jason Pominville is having a tough time offensively. The right wing leads the Sabres with 47 points, but has just two goals and one assist with a minus-5 rating in his last eight games.
He has one goal and four assists in his last three visits to Nassau Coliseum, but didn’t manage a point or a shot in a 4-2 loss there Jan. 14.
New York, tied with Tampa Bay for 11th in the East, returns home after winning 2-1 in overtime at Ottawa on Friday and beating Carolina 5-3 on Tuesday.
“We play Buffalo at home (Saturday) and we’re a confident bunch right now,” said right wing P.A. Parenteau, who has 10 points in his last seven games after assisting on both goals Friday. “We play with a lot of passion and we know what’s at stake in the next two weeks. Nothing’s impossible for us.”
The Islanders play four of their next five games at home, where John Tavares has nine goals and six assists during a nine-game point streak.
Tavares also has at least point in each of his four career home meetings with the Sabres, netting four goals and assisting on five others.
Parenteau has eight points in nine career games versus Buffalo.