Though it involved a scare, Ryan Miller came out of his November with renewed confidence.
The 31-year-old Miller did not play in nine straight games due to a concussion suffered versus Boston on Nov. 12 when Bruins forward Milan Lucic crashed into him while both players were going for a puck near the faceoff circle. He served as the backup to Jonas Enroth in Friday's loss to the Red Wings before getting the call on Saturday in Nashville.
Miller had an eventful return as he was crashed into by Predators' forward Jordin Tootoo in the second period. That set off a pile up of players, with Miller jumping on Tootoo and landing some punches.
Tootoo was given a charging major and a game misconduct, but that did not satisfy Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff afterwards.
"What happened in the game was a joke," said an angry Ruff. "All it does is just prove the fact that when I said it was open season, it appears it is open season. You get a guy that comes off a concussion and you have Jordin Tootoo running over your goaltender. We used to get a two-minute power play for that, we got a one-minute power play out of that. That's a joke."
Ruff also said he wanted to see how the league responded to Tootoo's hit, especially after Lucic was not suspended for his run at Miller. On Tuesday, the league suspended Tootoo for two games for the incident.
As far as Miller goes, he made 32 saves in Saturday's win, just Buffalo's second in seven games. The Sabres will try to win consecutive games tonight for the first time since a four-game streak from Nov. 4-11.
"I feel pretty good. My conditioning could be a little better, but I did the things I wanted to do," said Miller.
Luke Adam, Zack Kassian and Tyler Ennis scored for the Sabres and former Flyer Ville Leino had two assists. Ennis' goal was his first of the season and came in his second game back after missing 17 contests with an ankle injury.
Another fallout from Tootoo's hit on Miller was an injury suffered by Paul Gaustad during the ensuing scrum. He is doubtful tonight, while Jordan Leopold is also likely to miss a third straight game due to an upper-body injury.
However, Nathan Gerbe is expected to return after a one-game absence caused by a facial laceration and Cody McCormick could play for the first time in 10 games due to a concussion in this opener of a five-game homestand.
Buffalo has lost five of its last six at home and those struggles could continue tonight versus Philadelphia, which is 6-0-2 in its last eight trips to western New York. That includes a 3-2 win on Nov. 2 in the first of four encounters between the clubs this season. The Flyers, who also won twice in Buffalo during last year's seven-game victory over the Sabres in the first round of the playoffs, scored all three goals in the game's first 6:23 to chase Miller and used a similar approach to best the Coyotes on Saturday.
Matt Read, Wayne Simmonds, Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell all scored first- period goals in a 4-2 win, while Ilya Bryzgalov made 36 saves in his first game at Phoenix since Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinals versus the Red Wings as a member of the Coyotes.
"It's most important that we got two points," Bryzgalov said after playing on back-to-back nights for the first time this season.
The Flyers have won four of their last five and were coming off a 4-3 overtime win at Anaheim in which they rallied from a three-goal deficit.
"We discussed starting better, especially (playing) on back-to-back nights. You know it's going to be tough to play from behind," said forward Danny Briere, who spent four seasons with the Sabres prior to his current stint with Philly.
Giroux continued his scoring assault as he has six goals and 13 points over his last nine games. He is tied for third in the NHL with 32 points.
Philadelphia is set to play the finale of a four-game road swing and is 9-3-1 as the guest this year. It could have forward James van Riemsdyk in the lineup tonight after he missed the previous four games with an upper-body ailment.