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Sabres jump for joy; Buffalo takes tense thriller

It's not easy for a goaltender to jump. Ryan Miller proved it can be done.

The Sabres' goalie showed off his vertical leap Friday night, going airborne to celebrate Buffalo's 2-1 shootout victory over Boston. The Sabres retained their high hopes for a playoff spot by improving to 3-0-1 in the last four games.

They'll try to keep the streak going tonight when they visit the New York Rangers.

Miller earned First Star honors by stopping 35 pucks in regulation and overtime and three more in the shootout. When Benoit Pouliot fired wide on Boston's final chance to extend the breakaway session, Miller jumped into the air and rushed toward his oncoming teammates.

"I'm just happy to get some wins," Miller said. "I guess it doesn't really matter who it's against right now, but we know they're a very good team. We had to play a good game to beat them. Those do feel good."

Boston closed hard to create anxious moments for the sellout crowd in First Niagara Center. The Bruins took half of their shots during the third period and overtime, and they took a 1-0 lead in the shootout on a goal by David Krejci.

Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy answered in the four-round challenge. Roy's winner, a backhand that hit the post and bounced in, was a bit of redemption. He gave the puck to Zdeno Chara during a penalty kill with 3:36 gone in the third period, and the Boston captain unleashed a slap shot that tied the game at 1-all.

"That was a tough break," Roy said. "The puck was spinning on me. I didn't get all of it. He picked it off and made a pretty nice shot.

"I wanted to redeem myself somehow during the game. I didn't know when it was going to be, but I had a good feeling about it."

Although the Bruins tied the game on the power play, the Sabres' struggling penalty-kill unit helped key the victory. It entered on an 11-for-17 slide, but Buffalo stopped three of Boston's four attempts, including the final man-advantage that carried into the opening 1:37 of overtime.

"The penalty killers did a great job, and that's a big part of why we won," center Tyler Ennis said.

The teams skated into the first intermission in a scoreless tie. The seal in front of the nets finally broke with 5:15 left in the second. Andrej Sekera's first goal in 21 games got the crowd of 18,690 roaring.

Ennis collected a dump-in behind the Boston net and spotted Sekera pinching from the point. The defenseman was alone between the circles and took a pinpoint wrist shot that sailed into the top left corner past goalie Tuukka Rask.

"Andrej did a great job of just jumping in that hole," Ennis said.

It looked as if Miller might make the 1-0 advantage stand up. He blanked the Bruins, 6-0, Feb. 8 and finally had his shutout streak against them end at 109:01 when Chara stepped into his slap shot.

"He shoots the puck hard," Miller said of the blue-liner, who set a record with a 108-mph blast during All-Star weekend. "I sensed a little bit of danger on my right so I stayed back. Without challenging that shot, he's got a little bit of an advantage. It hit me in the shoulder and still blew its way into the net."

The goal energized the Bruins. It was one of 15 shots during the third period. The Sabres countered with just five.

"We were sitting back and letting them come to us," Roy said. "That's an adjustment we've got to make."

Once again, Miller made the lapse moot. He improved to 8-2-2 in his last 13 games (one in relief) and has allowed one goal or fewer in six of them.

"He's playing unbelievable," Ennis said. "We all know that is the way he plays, and we have a lot of confidence in him."

Said Miller: "Our game has become a lot smarter in the last two months. -- We're happy to get the wins."



Sabres 2

Bruins 1 SO

Slap shots: Derek Roy scores in the fourth round of the shootout as Buffalo improves to 3-0-1 in last four. Sekera scores first goal in 21 games to give Buffalo a 1-0 lead. Chara scores early in third on power play to tie game.