UNIONDALE -- Ryan Miller will be in goal for the Sabres tonight against the New York Islanders and that's not big news. But there was plenty of chatter today in Nassau Colisuem because Rick DiPietro, he of the 15-year, $67.5 million contract that has been reviled and howled at around hockey, will make his first home start since a 4-1 win over Toronto on Dec. 26, 2008. DiPietro, who has battled knee surgeries and extended rehab the last two seasons, played one game this year and took a 4-3 loss Jan. 8 at Dallas.
DiPietro, of course, was the starting goaltender for the 2006 U.S. Olympic team in Torino, Italy. Miller is almost certain to be the starter next month in Vancouver.
"It's good that he's back playing again and healthy," Miller said. "He's gone through a lot in his career and it's always good for another American boy to be back on the ice."
Former Sabre Dwayne Roloson has been red-hot of late, shutting out Detroit here Tuesday and posting a 7-0-1 mark with a 2.02 GAA in his last eight starts as the Isles have gone 7-2-1 over their last 10. But his career numbers against Buffalo are shaky (0-5-1 with one tie, 3.46) so coach Scott Gordon opted for DiPietro tonight. The Islanders, remember, have shut out Buffalo, 2-0 and 5-0, in the Sabres' last two trips here.
"We've got to get pucks at him, get traffic in front of him and test him on rebounds," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said of DiPietro. "We're going to really focus in on where we want to get the puck because he's as good as it comes when he's on his game in terms on disrupting. At the same time, when a goalie plays it that much you know you'll get one or two opportunities where he's going to misplay it. We don't want him to be reason our forecheck isn't any good."
The Sabres will have the same lineup as they did Thursday in Atlanta, meaning Matt Ellis, Nathan Paetsch and Andrej Sekera are the scratches.
More notes: No. 1 overall pick John Tavares has just one goal in his last 16 games and none in the last nine for the Isles but the team has scored 23 goals in the last five games without him adding anything to the offense. ... The Sabres will be trying to join New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Chicago and San Jose on the last of teams with 30 wins. ... Buffalo is 7-0-2 in its last nine and 35 of 37 on its penalty kill in that stretch. ... Tim Connolly's 10-game point streak is the longest current run in the NHL and he's one goal shy of 100 for his career.
taggedNHL | NHL Entry Draft | Olympics | Sabres | Sabres game day