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Sabres ready to head to Washington for showdown; Miller named NHL's Second Star

Lindy Ruff didn't need to pull out a big standings board at practice today. The Sabres know they are tied with eighth-place Washington at 84 points. They know they play the Capitals on Tuesday.

They know the game means more than any they've played so far.

"I don’t think I have to sell anything," Ruff said in First Niagara Center. "They know where they’re at. They understand where we can get to and how big the two points is. I shouldn’t have to sell it this time of year."

Although Tuesday's showdown in Washington could end up determining which team gets a playoff position, it is not a do-or-die game. Both squads will have five games left to determine their fate, though the head-to-head matchup will mean a lot.

"It’s a big game obviously for us, but we’ve got more games left after that," Ruff said. "It’s not the end of the world, but we know we need to play well."

Ryan Miller, who has preached since 2010 not to make any one game bigger than another, kept that mantra going today. He said his peace as the NHL's Second Star of the Week, earning the honor after winning four games while posting a 1.26 goals-against average and .956 save percentage.

Washington's Alex Ovechkin was the Third Star, while Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin was named the First Star.

"It’s not something you do on your own, and it’s definitely a team effort," said Miller, who will start for the 29th time in 31 games. "It’s just another game in a long line of games that are meaningful that we had to win. I’m not going to make it any different.

"We’ve had some challenges in the last few months, and this is another one."

The Sabres, who have an afternoon flight to D.C., will have wingers Nathan Gerbe (upper body) and Patrick Kaleta (thumb) at their disposal. Both have been cleared to play, and Ruff will decide Tuesday whether to use them.

---John Vogl

Lindy Ruff

Ryan Miller

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl |

About Sabres Edge

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz |