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Miller saves 31 for his and Sabres' first shutout of season

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Ryan Miller provided the one thing missing

in a season in which the playoff-bound Buffalo Sabres have already

set a franchise record for victories.

With win No. 51, Miller made 31 saves to record his and the

team's first shutout of the year in a 6-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday.

"It wasn't real high on my list," Miller said, of recording

only his second career NHL shutout. "But with the success we've

had, it is a little bonus on top. Just trying to get tuned up ready

to go."

The Sabres, locked into fourth place in the Eastern Conference,

still don't know who their first-round opponent will be when the

playoffs open next weekend. What hass become clear is Miller putting

aside questions of his preparedness, the rookie winning his fourth

straight start after a 1-5-1 slump.

Just what coach Lindy Ruff needed to see.

"I think his game has come around," Ruff said. "Going into

the playoffs, you have to have good saves, and today we got good

saves."

Miller's performance was complemented by an offense that has

suddenly regained its groove.

Chris Drury scored twice and Brian Campbell had a goal and two

assists in Buffalo's regular-season home finale. Paul Gaustad added

a goal and assist, while Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville also

scored.

The Maple Leafs lost in regulation for the first time in 11

games (8-1-2), coming out flat a day after being eliminated from

playoff contention. Leafs captain Mats Sundin had an 11-game point

streak snapped, and Toronto finished 0-4 at Buffalo this season.

"It was disappointing how last night ended up," Sundin said.

"Still, we should have had a better effort than we did tonight."

Added coach Pat Quinn: "We had a lot of guys that wanted to

play easy tonight."

Buffalo took control early, scoring goals on consecutive shots

to take a 2-0 lead 3 minutes in.

Campbell scored when his point shot knuckled over Mikael Tellqvist's right shoulder. Drury scored on a power play when he

drove out of the left corner and, as he was tripped, wrapped a shot

around Tellqvist inside the far post.

With Drury's goal, the Sabres set a franchise record by scoring

at least one power-play goal in 60 games. The previous record of 59

games was set in 1991-92.

Gaustad and Pominville then scored on consecutive shots 39

seconds apart late in the second period. Drury and Vanek completed

the surge with third-period goals.

Miller did the rest, particularly sharp in the second period

when he stopped 16 shots.

Among Miller's best stops came when he held his ground to foil

Jeff O'Neill, who was set up in front by Matt Stajan. He was also

fortunate when Kyle Wellwood backhanded a shot through the crease,

the puck dribbling along the goal line behind Miller. Gaustad then

tied up Darcy Tucker, preventing the forward from getting to the

loose puck.

"He owes me a meal or something," Gaustad said, laughing.

"No, he's played solid all year long. It's good for him that he

got the shutout. I'm happy for him."

The game became somewhat chippy in the final period. Leafs'

tough guy Tie Domi was ejected for being the aggressor in a fight

with Jay McKee.

Buffalo's Andrew Peters received a 10-minute misconduct after he

made a golf swing-type gesture toward the Leafs bench with 5

minutes left.

"It was disrespectful," Leafs defenseman Wade Belak said.

"You don't need to do that. But it was nice to see the referee

take action."

Peters said he apologized to his teammates and Sabres owner B.

Thomas Golisano.

"That wasn't something I was very proud of," Peters said. "It

was just stupid. I got caught up in the moment."Game notes
Colorado is now the only team not to record a shutout so

far this season. ... Sabres RW Maxim Afinogenov had two assists to

extend his point streak to seven games. He has three goals and 11

assists over that stretch. ... Leafs C Nik Antropov did not return

after limping to the dressing room with 4 minutes left in the first

period.