BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Once the shock and emotions of leaving Buffalo and the Sabres began to wear off, goalie Ryan Miller began looking forward to the challenge he and Steve Ott will face in living up to the St. Louis Blues' expectations.
Sabres no more, Miller and Ott are going from the NHL's worst team to a bona fide Stanley Cup contender after being traded to the Central Division-leading Blues (39-13-6) in a five-player, two-draft-pick deal Friday night.
"It's definitely humbling and flattering that they would make that kind of move and bring us in with the intention of giving them some help to push for a Stanley Cup," Miller said. "We're excited for the opportunity there. But also, it's about the responsibility we have to that organization to show up and get up to speed and compete as hard as we can to live up to the trade."
With his voice at times cracking with emotion, Miller spoke at a news conference during the first intermission of the Sabres' game against the San Jose Sharks. The deal was made about an hour before the game, and marks the first significant move since Tim Murray took over as general manager in January.
In exchange for trading away Miller and Ott, their captain, the Sabres acquired goalie Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart, prospect William Carrier, a 2015 first-round pick and a 2016 third-round pick.
The Central Division-leading Blues shored up their goaltending in an attempt to avoid another disappointing playoff run after being eliminated by Los Angeles in successive seasons.
Miller was expendable in Buffalo because the 33-year-old was in the final year of his contract and the Sabres were concerned he'd have little interest re-signing with a team early into its rebuilding stage.
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong made the deal with a more short-term objective in mind.
"The deal was made on the here and now. We'll worry about the future after the season," Armstrong said during a telephone conference call. "Obviously, Ryan Miller's resume speaks for itself. It gives us a better chance for success."
Miller won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goalie in 2010, the year he was the Most Valuable Player of the Olympic tournament in Vancouver, and is Buffalo's franchise leader with 284 victories and 540 games. This season, he's 5-22-3 with a 2.72 goals-against average and .923 save percentage. He's 284-186-57 with a 2.60 GAA and .916 save percentage overall.
Armstrong noted the trouble the Blues had against the Kings and goalie Jonathan Quick during the playoffs and believes Miller can make a difference.
Ott has credentials as a leader and provides the Blues a gritty two-way forward.
"He's an antagonistic player," Armstrong said about Ott. "He's a player that has that playoff pedigree."
Sabres coach Ted Nolan was set to start Miller on Friday night against San Jose, but the goalie and Ott did not take the ice for warm-ups and were scratched.
The Sabres acquired Ott from Dallas along with defenseman Adam Pardy in exchange for Derek Roy on July 2, 2012. Ott had 18 goals and 26 assists in 107 games for Buffalo.
Halak was in his fourth season with the Blues after spending his first four years with Montreal. He has a 24-9-4 record with a 2.23 goals against average, a .917 save percentage and four shutouts this season.
Stewart has 15 goals and 11 assists in 58 games for the Blues this season, and 115 goals in a six seasons with Colorado and St. Louis.
The 19-year-old Carrier was the Blues' second-round pick in 2013.
Though aware he was on the trade block, Miller had difficulty coming to grips with leaving a team and a city, which he regarded as home for 12 years.
"I don't know if I'll make it through this, so let's keep it quick," Miller said, his voice already quaking. "I'm really going to miss this part of the world."
Ott had preferred to stay in Buffalo, but understood that he was likely to be traded by a team seeking to rebuild.
He was particularly excited to be joining the Blues with Miller.
"It's amazing. This guy right here is the best goalie in the world," Ott said. "He has been our best player, our MVP in Buffalo in a tough, tough season. To have that opportunity to go along with Ryan for myself, I know how great he is. Both of us want to live up to expectations."
Because the trade was so completed so close to game time, the Sabres had to scramble to find a backup to Jhonas Enroth.
They signed Ryan Vinz, a former high school goalie, who is employed as the director of hockey technology of the Sabres-backed HarborCenter facility, which is being constructed across the street from the team's arena. The complex will feature two rinks and a hockey academy. Vinz was a walk-on at Clarkson, but never played and wound becoming the school's video coordinator.
AP Sports Writer R.B. Fallstrom in St. Louis contributed to this report.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Jannik Hansen scored the game's only goal and Eddie Lack made 20 saves for his third shutout of the season as the Vancouver Canucks blanked the St. Louis Blues 1-0 in the first post-Olympic game for both teams Wednesday night.
The Canucks ended their losing streak at seven games while moving into sole possession of eighth place in the Western Conference. The Blues dropped their third straight decision to Vancouver this season.
Hansen broke a scoreless deadlock at 11:13 of the third period. He took a backhand stretch pass from Tom Sestito from deep in the Vancouver zone just past center ice, raced in on a breakaway and beat Jaroslav Halak with a high shot.
It was Hansen's first goal in just over a month, a span of eight games, after he last scored Jan. 26 against Phoenix.
The Canucks outshot the Blues 35-20, but Lack had no shortage of challenges. Vancouver was blanked on four power plays while St. Louis failed to score on three.
Lack drew the start after backstopping the Canucks to a pair of wins over St. Louis earlier this season.
The Canucks played with the added aggression coach John Tortorella has been seeking as they outshot the Blues 14-6 in the first period. But the hosts could not beat a steady Halak, who was relatively fresh after playing just two games for Slovakia in the Olympics.
Lack made some difficult saves, including one on a slap shot by Brendan Morrow with just under eight minutes left. The Canucks averted a dangerous chance when St. Louis defenseman Roman Polak slid the puck off the goal post and a few players crashed into the net, knocking it off its moorings.
The Blues rallied early in the second period, prompting Tortorella to call a timeout. But Lack stopped Kevin Shattenkirk twice with the second chance coming on a power play.
The Vancouver goaltender also denied Blues captain David Backes on a one-timer during a delayed penalty and Alex Steen on a deflection, and got his pad on a shot by T.J. Oshie before defenseman Alex Edler blocked the puck as he attempted to put in the rebound.
After the save, fans chanted "Eddie! Eddie!"
Halak was sharp in the late going of the second as he thwarted Chris Higgins on a rebound and denied Daniel Sedin as he drove to the net and shot.
Notes: Olympians from both teams were honored in a pregame ceremony. Blues defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo drew loud cheers from the crowd when they were saluted, along with Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis and goaltender Roberto Luongo, for helping Canada win the gold medal. ... Tortorella worked his first home game since receiving a six-game suspension for storming the Calgary Flames' dressing room area Jan. 18. ... Canucks captain Henrik Sedin returned to action after suffering an undisclosed injury before the Olympics. He missed the past two practices while tending to a personal matter in Sweden, but returned Wednesday in time for the game. Defenseman Kevin Bieksa returned after missing five games before the Olympic break with a foot injury. ... Vancouver center Ryan Kesler sat out with a hand injury suffered while playing for the U.S. in the Olympics. Canucks defensemen Chris Tanev (thumb) and Andrew Alberts (concussion) remained out. ... Blues defenseman Jordan Leopold missed the game due to an ankle injury. He was replaced by Carlo Colaiacovo.
SOCHI, Russia (AP) -- By the busload, the world's athletes and visitors rolled toward Sochi's airport and took off for home Monday, fresh from a Winter Games experience that many Russians pronounced a smashing success and that the Olympic movement's chief enthusiastically labeled a victory for the region and the host nation. "Yes! We did it!" one Olympic volunteer exulted as she darted into the night.
After 17 days of global sport and spotlight, Sochi ended the spirited chants of "Ro-ssi-ya! Ro-ssi-ya!" and started cleaning up.
Travelers through the region's airport, rebuilt completely for the games, reported briskly moving security lines and check-in times of anywhere from 10 minutes to three hours, depending on destination. On what was predicted to be the heaviest Olympic-related travel day, the transit situation seemed to come down to this: It was like a busy morning at any normal big-city airport.
By the Black Sea coastline, Olympic Park, which will be hosting events at the upcoming Paralympic Games, had cleared out. Like the city of Sochi around it, the park felt deserted except for the legions of volunteers in multicolored patchwork jackets who still patrolled the area. Most security barriers remained in place in anticipation of the Paralympics, but security was noticeably more relaxed.
These Winter Games, Russian President Vladimir Putin's political showpiece and bragging trophy, convened under storm clouds - international concerns about gay rights and fears of a terror attack among them. But athletes overwhelmingly chose not to use the Olympic stage to make any statements, and the games opened and closed with vigorous (if sometimes spotty) security and no sign of any potentially violent activity.
When it came to logistics and sports, Russia outdid itself. Beyond initial grumblings about unfinished hotels and stray dogs, the Olympic infrastructure performed close to flawlessly. And the athletes: The home team claimed 33 medals, its largest haul ever - even counting the Soviet Union days - and a far cry from the 2010 performance in Vancouver that disappointed Putin and so many Russians.
"Russia has delivered on its promise," said Dmitry Chernyshenko, head of the Sochi organizing committee.
The successes - and a visually rich closing-ceremony tour through Russian history that ended with a handoff to the next Winter Games host city, Pyeongchang in South Korea - produced a party-like-it's-1999 atmosphere across the finally chilly Olympic Park during Monday's early hours.
Young Sochi Games volunteers, restrained and professional for 17 days, busted loose, running around outside Fisht Stadium with whoops, hollers and squeals. Selfies gave way to enthusiastic group shots - and group hugs. "Thank you for coming! Thank you for being here!" volunteers shouted to passing visitors as Olympic Park emptied out.
"Amazing. Look at this. Look at what we got done," said Viktor Virchenko, a heavily mustachioed folk dancer from nearby Stanitsa Leningradskaya who was cheerfully stalking Olympic Park early Monday in traditional woolen hat and 19th-century regalia. "I am very proud," he said.
IOC President Thomas Bach, closing the games Sunday night, eschewed the wording of predecessors that sometimes tried to assess the overall quality of a particular Olympics. Instead, he focused on calling them "the athletes' games" and spent many words praising both the region and Putin. Russia, Bach said, came through when it needed to.
"What took decades in other parts of the world was achieved here in Sochi in just seven years," he said.
Which raises the question: What happens to Sochi next, now that it has been effectively built up from scratch? After billions in investment and a world-class event pulled off successfully, it has a G-8 summit and Formula One racing just around the corner.
But can it be a resort region with long-term viability, or will it - despite its mountains and water so conveniently close together - suffer the fate of some other former Olympic cities and struggle to bring the masses to its doorstep? Bach, for one, says it "definitely has a future" after a previous bid and two decades of preparation.
"Seeing now, 20 years after this transformation, it was really amazing," he said in the hours before the Olympics ended. "And now it will be important to secure the legacy of this games."
Many Russians give all credit to Putin.
"Good for him, our president. He built all this, developed all this. We didn't have this kind of resort before," said Sergei Lesnikov, a 54-year-old hockey coach from the city of Kirov. ""After the Olympics it will remain. ... Tell your friends and family to come and see it here. It's not so bad."
And Russia itself? Though the memorable images of the Sochi Games include Cossack militiamen beating young women activists, the overall impression is one of competence, optimism - and, of course, athletic prowess.
The country's deputy prime minister, Dmitry Kozak, paints a rosy picture of today's Russia - and tomorrow's: "The games have turned our country, its culture and the people into something that is a lot closer and more appealing and understandable for the rest of the world."
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. cruised down pit road, stopping just long enough for Rick Hendrick to climb halfway inside his window for the short lift to Victory Lane.
Once there, Junior slipped from the beloved No. 88 Chevrolet, bounded past TV cameras and hugged every single crew member he could find to thank them for getting him his second Daytona 500 victory.
This was a celebration 10 years in the making.
It probably won't be the last this season.
And maybe not the biggest.
"We're going for the jugular this year," Earnhardt said after Sunday night's win in the season-opening Daytona 500.
NASCAR's most popular driver had to wait out a rain delay of more than six hours, then a chaotic close to end a 55-race drought dating back to 2012. His breakthrough win came at Daytona International Speedway, where he'd finished second in three of the previous four 500s and won "The Great American Race" a decade ago.
His emotions were clearly mixed in the moments after the finish. He screamed the win was better than the first as he took the checkered flag, then did an about-face in Victory Lane.
"I'm grateful to have one it twice now. I was grateful to have won it once," he said. "In about six months, I'll be as urgent to try to do it a third time as I was after the first."
When he finally arrived for his post-race news conference, soaked in beer and champagne nearly two hours after the win and a little over 11 hours after the race first began, he practically sprinted into the room. Arms raised, he yelled "Woo!"
"I bet someone hasn't come in here and screamed in 30 years," he said early Monday morning. "They used to!"
They were screaming as he crossed the finish line - those who stayed in the grandstands through the rain delay, and his die-hard fans all across the country.
"The world is right right now - Dale Junior just won the Daytona 500," teammate Jeff Gordon said. "That's a sign it's going to be a great season."
Rain stopped the race about 45 minutes after it began for a delay of more than six hours. When it resumed, Earnhardt dominated at the track where his father was killed in an accident on the last lap of the 2001 race.
He led six times for a race-high 54 laps - all after the rain delay - and seemed to have it under control until things got chaotic near the end. There were 42 lead changes and four multi-car accidents as the field closed in on the checkered flag.
An accident with seven laps to go triggered by pole-sitter Austin Dillon, driving the No. 3 - Earnhardt's father's number made its return to the Daytona 500 for the first time since 2001 - set up a final two-lap shootout to the finish.
Earnhardt got a great jump past Brad Keselowski on the restart, and had Gordon behind him protecting his bumper. But Denny Hamlin came charging through the field and Earnhardt suddenly had a challenger with one lap to go.
Then an accident farther back involving former winners Kevin Harvick and Jamie McMurray brought out the caution and the win belonged to Earnhardt.
"We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart," Earnhardt said. "This is amazing. I can't believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn't happen twice, let alone once."
Hamlin, who won two other races in the buildup to Sunday and was trying to become the first driver to sweep Daytona, wound up second in a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. He was strongest before the rain delay, but had an issue with his radio when the race resumed and had difficulty hearing his spotter.
"It was tough and disappointing because I definitely could have used my spotter there at the end," Hamlin said. "I'm trying to look up at the scoreboard, trying to figure out how many laps are left. I'm so 50-50 on whether I'm (mad) or I'm happy. I just don't know. Any other year, I probably would have been jumping up and down."
Keselowski finished third in a Team Penske Ford, and said after watching a replay he knew he had no chance to win once drivers behind him committed to their moves and Hamlin came charging alongside him.
"I don't feel like there's anything I could have done differently," Keselowski said.
But as a driver who got his break when Earnhardt hired him to drive for JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series, Keselowski was able to deal with his disappointment.
"If there's ever a guy who is due, it's the guy who finished second three out of the last four years. He was due," Keselowski said. "So I'm happy for him and happy for all those guys. He's probably my best friend in the garage outside of my teammate."
Hendrick took fourth and fifth with Gordon and last year's race winner, Jimmie Johnson, in what quickly became a company-wide celebration.
"He's been knocking on the door of the 500 for a lot of years. He got it done tonight - did an awesome job," said Johnson, who beat Earnhardt to the finish line a year ago.
The win means Hendrick already has one of his four drivers in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Under the new win-and-get-in format announced last month, Earnhardt is now eligible to race for the title and can spend the next 25 races preparing for the postseason.
"We might be in the Chase - I ain't going to worry about that," Earnhardt said from Victory Lane. "Trust me, man, we're going to have a blast this year."