Northeast: Miller magic in Buffalo

By John-Eric Iannicello

Photo: This stop by Ryan Miller on the Washington Capitals‘ Alexander Semin was one of 44 that the Buffalo Sabres goaltender made in his team’s 5-1 win over the Capitals on Tuesday night (courtesy of

Mark Goldman/Icon SMI)

Goaltender Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres), forward Daniel Alfredsson (Ottawa Senators), and forward Drew Stafford (Buffalo Sabres) are the three stars of the week in the Northeast for March 23-29.

First Star: Ryan Miller, G, Buffalo Sabres –
Grabbing first star honors for another week, Miller has been nothing but sensational and a driving force in the Sabres turnaround this season. The past week has seen Miller only allow three goals through three games. He’s appeared in back-to-back contests where he out-duelled Hendrik Lundqvist with a 26-save performance and followed it up with another strong outing against the Minnesota Wild, stopping 24 shots. His best performance this week came in one of the Sabres biggest games of the year. Battling for the eighth playoff seed, Miller turned aside 44 of 45 shots to help the Sabres defeat the Washington Capitals 5-1 on Tuesday.

Second Star: Daniel Alfredsson, RW, Ottawa Senators
The 39-year-old Senators captain has led by example this week for his club, leading the way with four goals and two assists in three games. More specifically, he’s been quite impressive and a big reason why the club is currently riding a two-game winning streak. He was a primary factor in the club’s big win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, scoring four points which included the game winner and adding an insurance marker later in the third period. In the Senators’ 6-4 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Monday, the veteran scored twice including the game winner.

Third Star: Drew Stafford, RW, Buffalo Sabres –
Coming on very strong as of late with some help from linemate Tyler Ennis, Stafford finished the week with four goals and one assist in three games. The scoring forward netted the game-winner and added another goal late against the New York Rangers on Friday. Against the Capitals on Tuesday, Stafford scored two goals, including the game winner, in a pivotal season win. Stafford’s point streak has stretched back eight games where he has collected a total of 14 points. He’s one goal shy of his third 20-goal season and three points away from eclipsing the 50-point mark for the second time in his career.

Northeast Division Notes

Boston BruinsThe Bruins dropped a shootout contest against the Washington Capitals last night. The club has collected seven out of a possible eight points in their last four games. The Bruins will play back-to-back games in New York this weekend against the Islanders on Saturday and Rangers on Sunday. David Krecji has five points in his past four games, while captain Zdeno Chara also has five points in his past four games.

Buffalo Sabres –
The club announced the signing of free agent forward Kyle Bailey from the University of New Brunswick (CIS) to an ATO for the remainder of this season. Bailey was originally a fourth round selection of the Minnesota Wild at the 2005 NHL Draft. The Sabres will host the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight, who are coming off a 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders last night. They will then face the Toronto Maple Leafs the following night in Toronto.

Montreal Canadiens
The Canadiens will travel to face the New York Rangers tonight before travelling to Washington to play the Capitals on Saturday. The Canadiens still remain in 15th spot in the Eastern Conference and are three points back of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Ottawa Senators –
Ben Bishop could return sooner rather than later from his lower-body injury. He could start skating as early as this weekend. They’ll return to action after a four night rest with a game against the Flyers in Philadelphia. On Sunday, they’ll continue their roadtrip with a stop against the Islanders in New York.

Toronto Maple Leafs –
Mikhail Grabovski’s 23rd goal of the season gave him 200 career NHL points. The goalie carousel continued for the Maple Leafs on Thursday as the club recalled Jussi Rynnas and sent Ben Scrivens back down to Toronto (AHL). Jonas Gustavsson was expected to start, but was injured in warm-up which paved the way for Rynnas to start. Rynnas was shelled for seven Philadelphia Flyers goals on 30 shots. The loss was the 11th straight loss on home ice for the Leafs. James Reimer could be out for the remainder of the season with an upper body injury, but a decision has yet to be made. The Maple Leafs will host the Sabres on Saturday night.