NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Ryan Miller's long wait to get back on the ice ends tonight.
Miller, out since suffering head and neck injuries Nov. 12, will start in goal for the Sabres against Nashville.
"I’m excited to play," he said following the morning skate in Bridgestone Arena. "I love to play hockey. I’ve been missing it for a while here. With this injury, it’s one of those things where you can’t do much. I’m definitely excited to be back on the ice and just looking to get my game where it needs to be to help give the guys a chance to win. I want to get back and definitely re-establish my game a little bit."
Miller is 5-6 this season with a 2.86 goals-against average and .909 save percentage. He is just 1-5 in his last six decisions, including his appearance against Boston that lasted just 40 minutes following a collision with Milan Lucic. Miller said not being able to get out of the slump because of injury was the one of the toughest parts of missing almost a month.
"Any team needs goaltending," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "If you don’t get it, you don’t win. There’s no secret. Ninety-five percent of the occasions your goalie has to be a difference maker. For a long period of time, Jhonas [Enroth] was. He’s struggled a little bit. We need Ryan to step in and play well. Obviously, it’s a great opportunity for him. He feels good. He’s had a couple great days of practice. We need him to be our leader between the pipes."
The Sabres have called up right wing Corey Tropp because injuries will sideline forwards Nathan Gerbe (face laceration) and Patrick Kaleta (groin). Gerbe got cut by teammate Paul Gaustad's skate during Friday's loss to Detroit.
"We left him at home," Ruff said. "A lot of stitches and doesn’t feel too well. He didn’t get any sleep last night at all. I didn’t ask [how many stitches], but there was enough."
Nashville called up West Seneca native and Nichols product Chris Mueller, and he will make his NHL season debut tonight against his hometown team.