With Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff nursing three broken ribs and watching from the press box, goalie Ryan Miller made 36 saves to earn his second shutout in three games in a 6-0 win over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.
Jason Pominville scored twice, set up both times up by Ville Leino, helping Buffalo improve to 4-0-1 in its past five. Tyler Ennis had a goal and assist, and Drew Stafford, Christian Ehrhoff and Patrick Kaleta also scored for Buffalo, who is now 5-0-4 in its past nine home games.
The Northeast Division-leading Bruins fell to 5-6-1 in their past 12. Boston, which won at Washington on Sunday, hasn’t won two straight since beating Winnipeg and Montreal on Jan. 10-12.
Bruins starter Tuukka Rask didn’t last 22 minutes before being pulled after allowing three goals on 10 shots. Tim Thomas gave up three goals on 19 shots in relief.
The Bruins had a goal disallowed midway through the first period when referee Rob Martell ruled Rich Peverley interfered with Miller before Milan Lucic redirected in a shot from the point.
The Sabres rediscovered their offense by scoring a season-best six goals in regulation. They had been held to two goals or fewer 15 times in 20 games.
The offensive outburst came with assistant coach James Patrick filling in for Ruff behind the bench. Ruff was forced to watch from upstairs to nurse his sore chest after being hurt during practice on Monday when he was upended from behind by defenseman Jordan Leopold.
Making his first appearance at the arena since being hurt, Ruff arrived in the press box about 15 minutes before the opening faceoff. Before goalie coach Jim Corsi closed the door to the booth, Ruff told The Associated Press he was doing ”OK.” And then, with a big smile, Ruff added, ”I’m vertical.”
Despite his pain, Ruff had plenty to be happy about in watching the Sabres get off to a rousing start.
Miller’s best save came seven minutes in, when he kicked out his right pad just in time to stop David Krejci, who was set up in front. He was also sharp in foiling Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin, who each had chances in front seconds apart early in the third period.
Miller has allowed just five goals in five starts, a stretch that includes a 1-0 shootout loss to the New York Rangers last week.
Ehrhoff and Pominville staked Buffalo to a 2-0 lead by the 14:49 mark. Ennis’ goal 1:52 into the second period chased Rask.
Leino made a great play to set up Pominville’s first goal. Driving deep up the left wing, Leino stopped, spun around and threaded a backhand pass through the middle that was directed in by Pominville.
Ennis’ goal came on a fortunate bounce. Driving through the middle and around defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, Ennis backhanded a shot that went off the right post and in off of Rask.
The Sabres didn’t back down against the more physical Bruins. Buffalo’s Cody McCormick squared off with Shawn Thornton less than three minutes in, and Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta got into a fight with Lucic later in the first period.
Lucic has been targeted by the Sabres since he bowled over Miller in Buffalo’s 6-2 loss at Boston on Nov. 12. Miller sustained a concussion and whiplash, and the Sabres then had a swoon.
After a 10-5 start, the Sabres toppled out of the playoff race by going 9-18-5 through their next 32 games.
Lucic was roundly booed with just over two minutes left after he cross-checked Kaleta in the back of the head. That resulted in another scuffle, and had Lucic involved in a shouting match with several players on the Sabres bench.
NOTES: Under NHL rules, the win counts on Ruff’s record because he is still the head coach. … In 14 seasons, he’s missed only one game — a 5-0 loss at Atlanta in March 2006 when he stayed home to be with his daughter, who had surgery to have a brain tumor removed. … The Bruins entered having won 11 straight against their Northeast Division rivals. They are 12-2 overall. Both losses came against Montreal in late October. … Rask dropped to 0-3-1 in his past four games, a stretch in which he’s allowed 13 goals.