OTTAWA (AP) _ Ryan Miller prevented the Buffalo Sabres from being swept out of the playoffs. Yet, the Presidents' Trophy winners still have a long way to go to climb back into the Eastern Conference finals against the Ottawa Senators. One step at a time, Miller said after stopping 31 shots _ including 15 in the third period _ to preserve a 3-2 win in Game 4 on Wednesday night.
``I think it allows us to begin to focus on the next challenge,'' Miller said. ``It's going to be tough. It's going to be a battle. But I like the direction we went.''
The Sabres' first win in the best-of-seven series made Game 5 necessary on Saturday back home in Buffalo. They are still down 3-1 but hope to become the third NHL to win a series after losing the first three games.
Buffalo finally found a way to beat Senators goalie Ray Emery _ something the Sabres didn't do in a 1-0 loss on Monday. And they also managed to hold on after jumping out to a three-goal lead. They squandered a two-goal edge in a 4-3 double-overtime loss in Game 2.
Chris Drury, the Sabres' ``Captain Clutch,'' delivered again, scoring 8 minutes into the second period to give Buffalo a 3-0 lead. It proved to be his 15th career playoff game winner, moving him into second place among active players, and three behind Colorado's Joe Sakic.
Fitting, too, that it was Drury who set the tone a day earlier, when he urged his team to fight like dogs.
``That was a whole locker room thing, that wasn't me just saying that,'' Drury said. ``Everyone understood that and knew what we were up against and I think it relaxed us.''
Derek Roy provided a spark by scoring 9 seconds in, and Maxim Afinogenov scored on a two-man advantage, producing Buffalo's first power-play goal in 19 chances this series.
Dean McAmmond and Peter Schaefer rallied the Senators with goals 1:46 apart in the second period, but they fell short in their bid to earn their first trip to the Stanley Cup finals.
Ottawa forward Jason Spezza wasn't happy with the start, but believes the team can build on its finish.
``You probably can't afford to spot anybody three goals, and we battled back, and we had chances but just didn't score,'' Spezza said. ``I think we're still confident with where we're at.''
The series continues to mirror last year's second-round matchup. That's when Buffalo won the first three games, lost Game 4 at home before eliminating the Senators at Ottawa in Game 5.
``We have to respect what they are, too. They've got lots of talent there,'' Senators coach Bryan Murray said. ``We just have to learn a lesson from them and play better in Buffalo.''
Miller was the difference.
He stopped 10 shots during a 4:30 stretch in the third period when Ottawa enjoyed consecutive power-play chances. It's a span when Miller produced his biggest save, waving his glove up to bat down Joe Corvo's snap shot from the slot.
``They were trying their hardest to give it to us, but their goalie decided that he didn't want to let anything by him,'' Corvo said.
Miller has been sharp, allowing three goals on 65 shots in his past two games after giving up 12 on 101 shots in his previous three.
``When things weren't going our way at the end of the second period, we could've packed it in there, and said, 'Ah, you know it's too tough,''' Miller said. ``But we battled through some tough situations.''