BUFFALO, N.Y. - With each acrobatic save Ryan Miller made, coach Lindy Ruff sensed the Buffalo Sabres would have enough time to find a spark.
It took a while - the game went all the way to a shootout - before the Sabres were finally able to erase a two-goal deficit and reward their star goaltender with a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night.
"He's made the big saves when we needed them, and those big saves give the team confidence, they give you momentum," Ruff said. "He's been right there for us."
Miller stopped 30 shots through 65 minutes and then allowed one goal through five shootout rounds, clinching the victory when Marc Savard had the puck roll off his stick while attempting to make a move in front of the net.
Thomas Vanek scored the decisive shootout goal with a nifty move. Driving to the net, he faked a shot and let the puck float at his skates for a second, before beating Manny Fernandez on the glove side. Drew Stafford also scored in the shootout and forced overtime by capping a great individual effort with a goal when 14 minutes remained in regulation.
Clarke MacArthur also scored for Buffalo, which is off to a 5-0-1 start.
But the credit went to Miller, who kept the Sabres in the game while they were being outshot 14-2 early in the first period, and 24-12 when Phil Kessel scored to give the Bruins a 2-0 edge eight minutes into the second period.
"Ryan was unbelievable," Vanek said.
"Tremendous," added Jason Pominville. "The saves he made tonight were terrific."
For the Bruins (2-1-3), this type of loss is becoming all too familiar. Boston was coming off a 2-1 shootout loss to Pittsburgh on Monday in which Penguins backup Dany Sabourin stopped 35 shots.
"You almost feel like 'Groundhog Day' here," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We came up short again in the shootout. But we are that close, and if we can get over that hump it will make a big difference."
Boston's Dennis Wideman scored 11 minutes in when he threaded a shot through a crowd in front. Miller also had no chance when Kessel beat him with a low shot from the right circle that sneaked just inside the left post.
But Miller kept the Bruins from blowing the game open.
With 27 seconds left in overtime, Miller reached back with his stick to stop Marco Sturm's attempt to get around the goalie on the short side. Midway through the third period, Miller made a big glove save, snapping his arm up in time to rob David Krejci's attempt to convert a rebound from the right circle.
Early in the second period, Miller made his most acrobatic save by stopping Kessel's shot from the right circle and then diving back across the crease and getting his stick down to block Savard's chance from in close. A minute later, Miller kicked out his right pad to foil Blake Wheeler's shot from the slot.
"It is frustrating, but at the same time, we've got to keep staying with it," Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron said. "It's the same song as last night. We had chances, we just need to finish."
Miller improved to 4-0, a stretch in which he's allowed six goals. Just doing his job.
"Yeah, happy to help," Miller said. "I thought the team did a nice job of settling down and playing."
Notes: Vanek, who entered the game with an NHL-leading seven goals, had a five-game goal streak snapped. . The two teams split their series last year at 2-2-2. Buffalo held an edge in goals 18-17. . The Sabres streak of not allowing a power-play goal ended at 26, tying Dallas in 2001 for fourth-longest to start a season since 1989, according to STATS. . Ruff improved his career record to 402-302-121, tying Punch Imlach for 22nd on the NHL coaching wins list. . Krejci scored Boston's lone goal in the shootout.