Some big decisions coming up

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Ovechkin

Alex Ovechkin celebrates his second goal Tuesday. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Sooner or later, Alex Ovechkin had to break loose, right? Over two recent games, the Washington Capitals superstar pumped a whopping 18 shots on goal against the Sabres.

Thanks to Ryan Miller’s elite goaltending, the Sabres held the NHL’s most-lethal threat scoreless while winning two 2-1 shootouts.

Facing backup goalie Jhonas Enroth, Ovechkin caught fire early Tuesday, scoring at 3:39 and 4:42 inside the First Niagara Center.

The Sabres still hadn’t recorded a shot.

But the Sabres roared back against the potent …

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Ryan Miller is getting ready to play for Team USA at the Sochi Games. ©2014, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Ryan Miller appreciates Pat LaFontaine’s kind words. The hockey icon lauded his franchise goalie last week, telling reporters the Sabres would do their best to accommodate the former Vezina Trophy winner if he wants to stay here.

“It’s nice of him,” Miller, an unrestricted free agent following the season, said Saturday inside the Riverside Ice Rink. “I still need to kind of see what’s going on in the bigger picture.”

Miller said he still hasn’t spoken to new general manager …

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Ryan Miller made 49 saves Sunday. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – Even after Ryan Miller’s scintillating, career-best 49-save performance in the Sabres’ 2-1 shootout victory against the Washington Capitals, the goalie wouldn’t vouch for a spot on Team USA’s Olympic squad.

“It’s not up to me,” the humble Miller, who also stopped all six Capitals in the shootout, said Sunday inside the First Niagara Center.

The United States’ entry for the upcoming Sochi Games will be named following Wednesday’s Winter Classic outdoor game in Ann Arbor, Mich. Not surprisingly, Miller is …

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Alex Ovechkin already has 30 goals. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – In Alex Ovechkin’s world, this might qualify as a slump. The slick Washington Capitals winger hasn’t scored in his last two games.

Whoa!

Ovechkin, who will face the Sabres on Sunday, hasn’t gone three straight contests without a goal all season. The Russian already has 30 goals in 36 appearances.

How do you stop him?

“Those type of players … you don’t try to say they won’t get any chances because they will,” interim coach Ted Nolan said today inside the Riverside …

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Ville Leino, who scored twice Saturday, skates away from Troy Brouwer. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – An agitated Ron Rolston mostly offered short, vague answers to questions about the Sabres’ woes following a 4-3 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals on Saturday before a capacity crowd of 19,070 fans inside the First Niagara Center.

The reeling Sabres had just blown a 3-1 third-period lead, and the interim coach was in no mood to give any insight into their third straight loss.

A sampling:

Almost 20 games into his tenure, does he have major questions about the Sabres’ …

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Alex Ovechkin's Capitals have 84 points. ©2012, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
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BUFFALO – In reality, it’s a single game for the Sabres, one of 82 regular-season contests. Tonight’s anticipated eight-versus-nine tilt in Washington is potentially worth two points for them, just like any other game.

If the Sabres win, break their tie with the Capitals (84 points) and move into eighth place, they could quickly lose the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot again. Don’t forget, they stayed there less than a day after grabbing it Saturday.

Should they fall a point or two …

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©2012
Bill Hoppe     Olean Times Herald
0

BUFFALO – Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, who led the NHL with four wins thanks to a gaudy 1.26 goals-against average and .956 save percentage, has been named the league’s second star for the week ending March 25.

Miller allowed only five goals during the week and just two during his last three starts. He recorded his career-high sixth shutout in a 3-0 win Wednesday over Montreal.

“It’s not something you do on your own,” Miller said Monday inside the First Niagara Center. …

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