ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ryan Miller spent a lonely hour on the ice Sunday morning in Honda Center, working with a couple of scratches and a couple of Anaheim Ducks assistant coaches. He's still waiting for his season to begin.
The ex-Sabres star is 37 now, the backup to John Gibson on a team that once again has Stanley Cup aspirations. A wrist injury suffered early in training camp has shelved Miller thus far and he remains on injured reserve, so he didn't dress for Sunday night's game against the Sabres.
"I was just working my timing out," Miller said. "I had to be away from shots to one side for two weeks so I'm just trying to build back."
Coach Randy Carlyle said Sunday that Miller was getting close to being able to return, with speculation focusing on a game here Friday night against Montreal as one possibility.
Miller appeared in his 700th career game last year with the Canucks. He went 18-29-6 last season with a 2.80 goals-against average and .914 save percentage. He became the third U.S.-born goalie to get to 350 wins (he's now at 358), and joined Roberto Luongo and Henrik Lundqvist as the only active netminders to play 700 games.
Miller signed a two-year, $4 million contract with the Ducks after spending the last three years in Vancouver. His wife, actress Noureen DeWulf, is based in Southern California and Miller has long been interested in playing in the area. Their son, Bodhi, is now 2 1/2.
"He's at that age where you've got to be there so this helps a lot, even though we do travel a lot," Miller said. "I was looking at it as an important part of my life. Hockey is critical but your family is made and I'm trying to make decisions for that and it worked out great."
The move to Anaheim puts Miller with his first real chance with a team that could go deep into the playoffs since the Sabres traded him to St. Louis in 2014.
"This is a good team and I'll have a chance to contribute," said Miller. "I just want to get healthy and get things started for me. The guys are already five games in and I feel like I'm still kind of waiting to see how things are going to play out. I can't wait to get a chance to play. It's been an interesting preseason for me in that regard."
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Kyle Okposo missed his second straight game with the flu but the Sabres are hopeful he will play Tuesday night in Las Vegas.
"He's feeling better," said coach Phil Housley. "He's able to keep some food down, rode the bike today. He's moving in a good direction."
Justin Bailey got the call from Rochester and took the place of Seth Griffith in the lineup. Bailey scored two goals in the Amerks' season opener against Syracuse.
Bailey said he was uplifted by the positive message he got from Housley and General Manager Jason Botterill when he was sent to Rochester.
"For me it was great to hear that because I felt I gave them everything I could in training camp," Bailey said. "Going down there I didn't have any regrets. It was all positive and something I could build on in Rochester those first three games."
Victor Antipin was the healthy scratch on defense for the third straight game.
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Chad Johnson got his second start in goal of the season for the Sabres. His first was Monday's 6-1 drubbing at the hands of the New Jersey Devils in KeyBank Center. Johnson entered the game 2-2 in his career against Anaheim with a 2.46 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage.
Johnson had a 44-save shutout against the Ducks in 2015, the Sabres' franchise record for most saves in a shutout.
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Sunday's game marked the end of the Sabres' first back-to-back set of the season. They are slated to play 16 of them. Buffalo was 8-8-3 in the first game last season and just 6-12-1 in the second set.
"We addressed that this morning, all the things that are stacked against us," said Housley. "Travel. Three games in four nights. Short rest time. We've addressed that. We have to be really smart in our game, use our energy to the best of our ability. That means our puck management has to be really good."
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The Vegas Golden Knights figure to have a dramatically different lineup when the Sabres meet them for the first time Tuesday night in T-Mobile Arena.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion) and key forwards Jonathan Marchessault and Erik Haula (both lower body) were all placed on injured reserve Sunday and will certainly be out of the lineup.
Russian free agent Vadim Shipachyov was among those called up and he scored his first NHL goal Sunday night against Boston. He signed a two-year, $9 million contract in the offseason but had been stashed in the AHL while the Golden Knights dealt with a surplus of players on defense.
Former Buffalo defenseman Brayden McNabb was a healthy scratch for Vegas against Boston. William Carrier, taken from the Sabres in the expansion draft, is playing on Vegas' fourth line.