While Robin Lehner isn’t close to returning for a game, the Sabres’ injured goaltender is finally progressing.
Lehner, who suffered a high-ankle sprain during the season opener, had another encouraging workout Tuesday morning. He repeatedly went from a standing position to his knees and back up again without a lot of trouble in First Niagara Center.
“He did a good number of reps going into his butterfly on the ice two days ago and again today he had those reps,” coach Dan Bylsma said. “You’re dealing with a high-ankle sprain, so there is always with a high-ankle sprain dealing with some discomfort. That’s why it’s a long and arduous comeback from that. As a goalie going into that position an awful lot, it strains it every time you do that.
“He’s had a number of good days on the ice. He’s up to a new level by going into the butterfly a few days ago. He did it again today.”
Lehner will watch his 31st straight game when the Sabres host New Jersey on Tuesday night. The Sabres have two more home games (Thursday against Anaheim and Saturday against Chicago) before taking most of next week off for Christmas break.
“I’m hoping that we’ll see his progression go to another level here,” Bylsma said. “We’re going to have a five-day break, so hopefully we’re going to see it go to another level here before the break and then a good couple days at the break of rest and then come back after the break and hopefully we can progress from there.”
Linus Ullmark will start in goal for the Sabres against the Devils. Ullmark snapped a six-game winless skid Saturday against Los Angeles with a 20-save performance. Buffalo won its second in a row Monday with a 2-1 victory in Detroit.
The Devils will counter with Cory Schneider. He is 13-8-4 with a .924 save percentage and 2.17 goals-against average.
One of the Devils’ scoring leaders is West Seneca native Lee Stempniak. Signed through training-camp tryout, he has seven goals and 23 points in 30 games.
“It’s gone pretty well. We’ve got a good team,” Stempniak said. “We’ve got a great goalie. Cory Schneider gives us a chance every night. We’ve just got a really solid team.
“We can score when we have to, but our calling card and our identity has to be playing well defensively.”