It will be all about the winningest United States-born goaltender when the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings meet Saturday for their season-series finale.
Ryan Miller will be in goal for the final home game of his storied career, and a limited number of Ducks fans will be able to show their appreciation.
Miller, 40, is winding down his fourth season in Anaheim and the 18th of a career that made him one of the best ever to put on the pads after he announced his pending retirement Thursday. No U.S.-born goalie has more victories than Miller’s 390, as in February 2019 he surpassed the previous record holder, John Vanbiesbrouck, who posted 374 victories from 1981-2002.
Miller’s usage has been limited of late, with just 14 games played this season, 12 of them starts. He is 3-8-1 on a Ducks team that has struggled to a 15-29-7 mark (37 points) and is in last place in the West Division. Only the Buffalo Sabres have fewer points in the league with 33. Saturday will be Miller’s first start since March 29.
That disappointing Ducks record won’t matter, though, as all of the NHL will bid farewell to a goalie who was a huge part of the United States’ silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics at Vancouver.
Overall among goalies, Miller’s career victories rank 14th on the NHL’s all-time list. On March 18, he turned aside 21 shots in a 3-2 overtime win over Arizona to move past Hall of Fame goalie Dominik Hasek on the list.
“It’s going to have very little to do with what he said or what he did in his career, but how he made everyone feel around him,” Ducks head coach Dallas Eakins said of Miller. “That’s the greatest testament to this young man. He’s made us all feel important, worthy. He’s just an amazing human being. Career aside, that’s what I will always remember.”
Miller will be facing the Kings, who have a little momentum after Los Angeles rallied for a 2-1 victory over the Ducks on Friday, scoring both goals in the final 5:04. Lias Andersson tied it 1-1 before Anze Kopitar scored the game winner with 56 seconds remaining.
Kopitar dragged the puck in front of the Kings goal before he left his feet to score past Anaheim goaltender John Gibson. Kopitar now has 997 points over his 15 seasons with the Kings.
As the Ducks tried desperately to hold onto their slim lead late, the Kings went on the attack.
“You play with a lot more desperation and you’re making them play in their own zone and trying to attack a little bit more,” Kopitar said on the Bally Sports broadcast. “We have to do more of that in the first two periods.”
It was still enough to leave the Kings with a 4-2-1 record in the season series against their local rival with just one more game remaining between the teams. The Kings (19-23-6, 44 points) are still alive for a playoff berth but are eight points behind the fourth-place St. Louis Blues with eight games remaining.
While Saturday is set to belong to the Ducks’ Miller, Kopitar can make it one to remember too if he can provide a big night with three points.
“It was (on my mind) but now we put it away,” Kopitar said of reaching the 1,000-point milestone. “It happens when it happens.”
–Field Level Media