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Sabres hope Ryan Miller celebration will boost play vs. Islanders

Jan 17, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA;  Buffalo Sabres forward Tage Thompson (72) passes the puck in the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Sabres are banking that celebrating a former goaltending great will fuel the team to better results on Thursday night when they host the New York Islanders.

The Sabres will raise Ryan Miller’s No. 30 to the rafters and induct him into the team’s Hall of Fame prior to the game.

A former Vezina Trophy recipient, Miller spent parts of 11 seasons in Buffalo (2002-14) and is the franchise leader in games played by a goaltender (540), wins (284) and saves (14,847).

The Sabres sure could use a positive result on Thursday night. They have lost five of their last six games (1-4-1) following a scintillating 8-1-0 run.

Buffalo squandered a two-goal lead in the third period and dropped a 4-3 overtime loss to the Blackhawks in Chicago on Tuesday.

“Obviously that one stinks,” Sabres forward Tyson Jost said. “We’ll go over it and figure out what needs to be better. I thought we did a lot of good things. We just (got) a little bit away from our game. That one stinks, for sure.

Tage Thompson boosted his team-leading totals in goals (32) and points (59) after scoring with seven seconds remaining in the first period on Tuesday.

Thompson collected two goals and an assist in the three-game, regular-season series versus the Islanders in 2021-22.

Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who leads the team in assists with 35, wasn’t too pleased with his performance on Tuesday.

Dahlin didn’t hide from the fact that he was on the ice for the Blackhawks’ final three goals, capped by defenseman Seth Jones’ goal 2:24 into overtime. Dahlin also was escorted to the penalty box moments after interrupting the Blackhawks’ celebration following Philipp Kurashev’s goal that trimmed the Sabres’ lead to one at 1:34 of the third period.

“We’ve been having a tough stretch here,” Dahlin told the Buffalo News. “Mentally, I wasn’t there. I can’t talk about the team, but I can only put blame on myself. I have to look myself in the mirror. I have to play better. That was not acceptable.”

Like the Sabres, the Islanders also have fallen on hard times of late. New York lost for the sixth time in seven games (1-4-2) with a 4-1 setback to the Boston Bruins on Wednesday.

The Islanders scored first for the fourth straight game after Zach Parise tallied in the first period. Then, the bottom fell out for New York.

“We’re a little snakebit right now,” Islanders coach Lane Lambert said. “We’ve had at least five games (at home) and we’ve had plenty and ample opportunity.”

“It’s easy to say you can’t get discouraged, but the frustration is high for sure,” Brock Nelson said. “We have to create more opportunities.”

Parise’s goal was his 13th of the season, two shy of Brock Nelson and captain Anders Lee for the team lead.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau set up Parise for his third assist in as many games.

Mathew Barzal boasts team-leading totals in assists (30) and points (41) this season.

–Field Level Media