Ryan Miller stopped 35 shots and Paul Gaustad scored the lone goal, lifting the Buffalo Sabres to a 1-0 win over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs last night.
Gaustad connected nine minutes into the third period, converting Daniel Paille's pass from behind the net. Miller registered his third shutout of the season, helping Buffalo improve to 8-0-2 in its past 10 games and move into seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings, a point ahead of the Bruins and idle New York Rangers.
Three weeks ago, the Sabres sat 14th in the East while in the midst of a 1-7-5 slump.
"It feels good, but the job's not done," said Miller, who improved to 8-0-1 in his past nine starts, a stretch in which he's allowed only 15 goals. "We're excited for the possibility to keep climbing. Our goal isn't eighth or seventh; sixth is the next spot."
Vesa Toskala was sharp in stopping 19 shots for the Maple Leafs, but was caught leaning the wrong way when Gaustad beat him on the short side while parked at the right post. Toskala didn't get much help on the goal as Paille eluded forward Nik Antropov with a nifty move behind the net.
Miller stopped 12 shots in the second period, including seven during a 2 1/2-minute stretch, part of which came during a Maple Leafs power play. His best stops came when he handled Pavel Kubina's blast from inside the blue line, then recovered in time to foil Matt Stajan's chance from the slot.
Canadiens 2, Panthers 1 - Alexei Kovalev's shot from the right circle 1:43 into overtime gave visiting Montreal a victory over Florida. The power-play goal left the Panthers steaming about the call they said decided the game.
The Panthers were playing their first game since forward Richard Zednik was seriously injured Sunday.
With Jassen Cullimore - who helped Zednik off the ice after the forward's neck was sliced by teammate Olli Jokinen's skate in Buffalo Sunday - in the penalty box for hooking, the Canadiens' top-rated power play broke through.
"The refs are human and they make mistakes," Cullimore said. "And that's the way it goes."
Blackhawks 7, Blue Jackets 2 - Dustin Byfuglien scored two goals and Chicago rolled to a big early lead to win in Columbus, Ohio.
Robert Lang, Brent Seabrook, James Wisniewski, and Martin Havlat each had a goal and an assist and Brent Sopel had two assists for the Blackhawks, who scored on three of their first four shots.
The Blackhawks led, 4-0, after one period, inciting a crowd of almost 15,000 at Nationwide Arena to loudly boo the home team as the players left the ice at the first intermission.
Thrashers 3, Capitals 2 - Eric Perrin and Slava Kozlov scored on Atlanta's first two shootout opportunities to help host Atlanta beat Washington.
Kari Lehtonen stopped 39 shots before denying Washington's Alexander Semin and Boyd Gordon in the shootout. Lehtonen, who also had an assist, made a glove save on Gordon's shot to finish the win.
Devils 3, Senators 2 - Brian Gionta swept a rebound past Martin Gerber 2:14 into overtime as New Jersey beat visiting Ottawa.
Martin Brodeur, in his 16th straight start, stopped 23 shots through regulation, and Gerber made 28 saves for Ottawa.