Ryan Miller got off to a great start with his new team, the Vancouver Canucks.
Or so the story went.
In reality, Miller’s gaudy win-loss record at the beginning of the season was just as much, if not more, a reflection of his teammates’ ability to score goals versus his ability to deny them.
But the 34-year-old has been earning his big contract lately. In his last 10 starts, he’s allowed just 14 goals, with a save percentage of .955 over that stretch. The Canucks won seven of those starts, including four victories when they scored three or fewer goals.
Not surprisingly, Miller’s save percentage has improved dramatically, up to .919, one point shy of the likes of Henrik Lundqvist, Corey Crawford, Jimmy Howard, and Cory Schneider, who are all tied at .920.
“I’ve had a nice long stretch with [the Canucks], a half a season,” Miller said recently, per The Province. “Now, we’re getting to the point where we know each other a lot better.”
Last night in Florida, Miller fell just 2:32 of notching his third straight shutout in a 2-1 victory over the Panthers.
There’s a good chance he’ll start again tonight in Tampa Bay, after which the Canucks will enter the All-Star break. Sans goalie controversy.
Related: Why sign Miller? Benning wanted ‘a goalie with experience’
All the latest from the blue paint…
Carey’s back for Habs
After missing Saturday’s win over the Islanders with an upper-body injury, Carey Price will return to the Montreal net tonight when the Habs host the Preds at the Bell Centre.
Price, who’s having a Vezina- and Hart Trophy-caliber season, is 23-10-2 on the year with a .927 save percentage and 2.19 GAA. He’s headed to his fourth All-Star Game in Columbus on the weekend and is easily the biggest reason why Montreal comes into tonight’s game sitting third in the Atlantic Division, just three points back of Tampa Bay for top spot.
For the Preds, Carter Hutton will be in goal.
Sens at Rangers: Craig Anderson vs. Henrik Lundqvist
Oilers at Caps: Viktor Fasth vs. Braden Holtby
Pens at Flyers: Thomas Greiss vs. Ray Emery
Wild at Wings: Devan Dubnyk vs. Petr Mrazek
Canucks at Bolts: Ben Bishop for Tampa Bay, Ryan Miller likely for Vancouver.
Coyotes at Blackhawks: Mike Smith vs. Antti Raanta
Bruins at Stars: Tuukka Rask likely for Boston, Kari Lehtonen likely for Dallas.
The Florida Panthers aren’t one of the better offensive teams in the league, but lately they’ve been the only squad able to solve Ryan Miller. The Canucks goaltender led Vancouver to a 2-1 victory, but he came just short of earning a third consecutive shutout.
Miller’s run of perfection was broken with just 2:32 minutes left in regulation time courtesy of a quick shot off the draw by Brandon Pirri:
The 34-year-old netminder ended up silencing the competition for 200:45 straight minutes, which is a new personal best.
“It was fun while it lasted,” Miller said, per the Canucks’ Twitter feed. “The most important thing was we got the two points.”
It probably doesn’t hurt that he managed to outduel Vancouver’s old number one goalie, Roberto Luongo, in the process. Luongo came out on top when they faced each other on Jan. 8. There are no contests left between these two squads in 2014-15, so the netminders will have to live with the draw.
Of course, Miller has other matters on his mind as the Canucks’ playoff spot is far from guaranteed. His recent hot streak has helped, but Vancouver has a tough contest ahead of it tomorrow against Tampa Bay.
All the latest from the blue paint…
Dubnyk looks to stay perfect
The Minnesota Wild will stick with Devan Dubnyk when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at Xcel.
Dubnyk, who won his first two stars for the Wild since coming over in a trade from Arizona, began his time in Minnesota by shutting out Buffalo, then stopped 25 of 26 shots in a 3-1 win over his old Coyotes teammates Saturday.
With that win, Dubnyk continued what’s been a stellar bounce-back season and now sits at 11-5-2 on the year, with a 2.49 GAA and .921 save percentage.
For Columbus, Sergei Bobrovsky will start in goal.
‘Canes at Leafs: Anton Khudobin vs. Jonathan Bernier
Canucks at Panthers: Ryan Miller likely for Vancouver, Roberto Luongo likely for Florida.
Avs at Blues: Semyon Varlamov vs. Brian Elliott
Flames at Kings: Joni Ortio for Calgary, Jonathan Quick likely for L.A.
Devils at Sharks: Cory Schneider for New Jersey, Alex Stalock likely for San Jose.
The Vancouver Canucks needed goals and needed wins.
This five-game road trip has brought them to Philadelphia to face the Flyers and Carolina to play the Hurricanes, so that’s pretty much a perfect remedy for what was ailing the Pacific Division team.
The Canucks shut out the Flyers on Thursday. Then they kept the Hurricanes off the score board on Friday.
Ryan Miller was in net for both of those starts, and he was sharp against Carolina, especially in the first period, turning aside the 12 shots he faced, when the team in front of him had difficulties getting up to speed playing in back-to-back nights.
They finally got their legs, scoring three times in the second period on their way to a 3-0 victory.
There were some scary moments for both teams in that second period. Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner went to the dressing room after falling awkwardly into the end boards. He did return. Canucks defenseman Frank Corrado took a puck to the face and also went to the dressing room, but he, too, returned to the game.
However, there was some bad news for the Canucks. According to Dan Murphy of Sportsnet, center Brad Richardson was seen on crutches after the game.
Here’s an example of Miller’s work (and a nifty through-the-legs pass from Carolina’s Alexander Semin):