Sabres get Miller back

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:50 PM ET

BUFFALO -- It's Miller time tonight at the HSBC Arena.

But more importantly, when the Sabres play host to their cross-border rival Toronto Maple Leafs, it's do or die time for the home team.

Clinging to their thin playoff hopes, the Sabres can be all but eliminated in a 24-hour span if they lose to both the Leafs tonight and the Montreal Canadiens -- the team they are chasing -- tomorrow night.

After the Canadiens' overtime win against Tampa Bay on Thursday night, the Sabres drifted to seven points behind Montreal with eight games remaining.

The Leafs have won five of their past seven in a solid late-season rally they would like to continue, but coach Ron Wilson rejects the talk of putting a dagger in their rival's playoff bid.

"We don't talk about being a spoiler before the game," Wilson said. "We talk about winning the hockey game, not about being party poopers or anything like that. You want to win the game on its own merits.

"I haven't heard anybody on our team talk about being a spoiler."

Buffalo's slim prospects may well rest upon the return of all-star goaltender Ryan Miller, who has been out of the lineup for 13 games after suffering an ankle sprain. The Sabres have been a miserable 4-7-2 without their starter.

"Any time you get your No. 1 goaltender back, that's a big deal," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "We know we have to put a string of games together."

And soon, although Miller is rejecting the notion of being the main hope for a late rally.

"I'm a goalie. I go out and try to stop the puck," said Miller, who needs one win to reach 30 for the fourth straight season. "If I can help make a difference, I want to do it. But by no means a guarantee, by no means a saviour."

The Leafs, meanwhile, will go with Curtis Joseph fresh off his dramatic relief appearance on Tuesday when he shut out the Washington Capitals in overtime and the shootout after Martin Gerber was ejected for bumping an official.

NOTES: The Sabres hold a 3-1 edge in the season series. The teams meet again on April 8 at the Air Canada Centre ... This is the first of back-to-back games for both teams: Buffalo travels to Montreal tomorrow, while the Leafs will return to Toronto to host Boston ... The Sabres have averaged 42.7 shots in their last three games ... Former Maple Leaf and current Sabre Dominic Moore is one point shy of 100 for his NHL career.


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