Miller's first Blues shutout is a big one

News-DemocratApril 1, 2014 

— Tuesday night was Exhibit A as to why goaltender Ryan Miller was brought here from the Buffalo Sabres.

Miller kicked aside numerous difficult chances during regulation and overtime, then stopped both shots in the shootout for his first shutout in 100 games as the Blues edged the Philadelphia Flyers 1-0.

The teams battled through three scoreless periods and overtime thanks to Miller and Flyers goalie Ray Emery before T.J. Oshie and Kevin Shattenkirk scored in the shootout to clinch the win.

"I think it's his coming out party," Blues defenseman Barret Jackman said of Miller, who stopped 31 shots for his first Blues shutout. "He's been solid most of the games for us and he just stepped it up another level tonight."

The win was the Blues' 51st this season, tying the franchise record as they moved to 51-17-7 for 109 points. They remain one point behind NHL overall leader Boston and seven points ahead of second-place Colorado in the Central Division with seven games remaining.

Miller was great early, just as good in the middle and saved some of his best stops for the end of regulation and overtime along with the shootout.

"That's why we brought him here," said Oshie, whose shootout legend continued after converting for the ninth time in 12 opportunities. "I talked him up a little before he got here, telling the boys he was a good goaltender. It was pretty amazing what was did out there tonight."

Miller was at his best again in the overtime, flashing his glove to rob defenseman Nicklas Grossman with 2:19 remaining. A minute later, Miller held his ground in front with the Flyers' Jakub Voracek camped there with the potential game-winner on his stick.

"I was happy to get that one because it gives us a chance to get the win and push the game on a far as we can go," said Miller, who improved to 10-3-1 with the Blues. "It was a fun night. When the puck's hitting you it's a lot of fun."

In the shootout, he turned away Vincent Lecavalier and then made a glove save on red-hot Flyers forward Claude Giroux.

Giroux had scored on five of his nine shootout attempts before Tuesday.

Miller had gone 100 games since his last shutout on March 21, 2012 against the Montreal Canadiens.

So when Shattenkirk beat Emery to nail down the win, Miller gave a fist pump and was treated to a standing ovation from the Scottrade Center crowd of 18,647.

"I didn't want to have to make another save," he joked. "I was just happy to have the win; it's been a while since I've had a shutout, so it felt good to finish the job and keep building the right way towards playoffs."

Jackman talked about the confidence level the team has in its new goaltender.

"You could see it tonight; they kept coming at us and he kept making save after save," Jackman said. "He showed right from the beginning. The first shift we gave up a chance and Millsie made one save, then another one right after. He gave a chance to get going."

The Blues had scored 12 goals in their previous three games.

The teams battled through three scoreless periods, with their best chances undone by the goaltending of Miller and Emery, missed shots and shots that clanged off goalposts.

The Flyers had beaten the Blues 4-1 on March 22, but five goals looked like 50 in this tight playoff-like affair.

Miller was called upon early to make a tough save on Scott Hartnell, then found himself staring down a 2-on-none rush by the Flyers later on during the first period.

The Flyers had a time, but elected to fire off a shot from left wing and Michael Raffl was turned away by Miller.

After a struggling first period, the Blues came out with more fire in the second.

Just seconds into the period, Blues winger Jaden Schwartz forced a turnover and rang a shot off the goalpost from the slot.

Raffl's bad luck with Miller continued in the second period. The Flyers' forward was staring at an empty net after taking a cross-ice pass from Wayne Simmonds, but Miller flashed his left pad across to make one of his best saves since coming here from Buffalo.

"There were some saves there where you feel like you're about to put your head down because it's going to go in the net," Oshie said. "He seems so calm and just sticks his pad out and saves it."

With 14 seconds remaining in the second period, Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo sent another shot off the post.

Emery stopped 28 shots for the Flyers, or just seven more than the 21 errant shots by the Blues that missed the net entirely.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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