BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Erik Karlsson broke up a goaltending duel between U.S. Olympic hopefuls Craig Anderson and Ryan Miller when he scored with 1:35 remaining in regulation to give the Ottawa Senators a season-opening 1-0 victory against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night.
Karlsson came down the right side of the slot and snapped home Clarke MacArthur's feed from the left boards with 1:35 left in regulation for the only goal of the night. Anderson stopped 35 shots for his 23rd career shutout. Miller took a tough-luck loss despite stopping 44 of 45 shots.
"It was a good event going back and forth," Anderson said. "Miller played unbelievable and I think it was one of those things where it was just going to be a lucky play, and we made a nice feed across from MacArthur to Karl and I think he kind of got half as much as he wanted on it. But it found the right spot. Millsy was unbelievable and credit to him for keeping his team in it."
Miller's goaltending led the United States to the silver medal in the 2010 Games at Winnipeg. He and Anderson, along with Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings, are among the top candidates to play for the U.S. at Sochi, Russia, in February.
More than half of Miller's saves came in the scoreless first period, when he stopped all 23 shots he faced. Anderson stopped 16 shots. The combined total of 39 shots without a goal through one period was the most in the expansion era, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The volume of shots slowed in the second period, with Miller stopped 10 shots and Anderson making nine saves. Miller's best save came late in the period he robbed Jason Spezza with his glove. That came shortly after Anderson went across the crease to deny Thomas Vanek on a 2-on-1 break.
Anderson made several other fine stops on Vanek, who finished with nine shots on goal.
"I think he made another good one on Vanek; the shot through a screen was even a harder save to make," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "Andy made the saves he needed to make tonight, and I thought Miller at the other end also made some great saves. The goaltending display tonight was obviously the highlight of the game."
Anderson was outstanding in 2012-13 but missed half the season with an ankle injury. He looked like he was in midseason form on Friday, and Spezza said wasn't the least bit surprised.
"He's prepared himself really well, he's got a lot of confidence," Ottawa's new captain said. "He's one of the best goalies in the game, and we're lucky to have a guy that gives us a chance to win every night. The saves he makes enabled us to stick around in that game and get the win."
Anderson compared it to a pitcher's duel in baseball.
"In baseball, guys need run support and in hockey goalies need goal support," he said. "Your job as a pitcher or a goalie is just to make sure your team's in there at the end and give yourselves an opportunity to at least get a point. That's kind of the way the night went. It was going back and forth and I was just trying to make that next save and not worry or get too far ahead of yourself."
The game appeared headed for overtime until Karlsson, the Norris Trophy winner in 2011-12, beat Miller. Did Karlsson call for the puck?
"No, he saw me. I was just waiting, snuck in there," Karlsson said of MacArthur, a former Sabre. "He's been so good, Miller, the whole game, so I just figure, OK I've got to try and put it between the legs when he's moving over and it worked."
Miller's brilliance didn't matter to him.
"That's not a fun way to lose, especially in our [home] opener," he said. "We wanted more energy and try to create some confidence here. We're going to make some mistakes. We have to come together as a team here. Would've been nice to grind one out and get an ugly one. You just have to gain points where you can get them. I just needed to make one more save there. It's disappointing."
Sabres coach Ron Rolston was very displeased with his team and was especially critical of turnovers. He pointed towards the line of Brian Flynn, Kevin Porter, and Zemgus Girgensons as Buffalo's best of the night.
"They play with effort and they play the right way. It's a simple, simple game," Rolston said. "We don't have enough guys playing the right way right now early in the season. So we're back to... back to square one. That was our best line I thought."
"[If that's our best line] we're in trouble. In terms of elite in this League, yeah. We've got to fix some things."
Vanek saw things a little differently.
"I thought both teams deserved a point," he said. "We were the first team to break at the end, which is disappointing, But the effort was good again."
Ottawa continues its season-opening six-game road trip with a visit to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night. The Sabres, now 0-2-0, visit the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.
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