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Goal support for Robin Lehner has all but disappeared recently

Robin Lehner has faced 105 shots in his last three games.

The Buffalo Sabres' goalie has stopped 100 of them – a save percentage of .952.

Despite that astronomical number, Lehner's record in that time is 0-3. The primary reason, of course, is a lack of goal support at the other end. Lehner's teammates have managed to score just one goal in those three games. That came during Tuesday night's 2-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers at First Niagara Center.

"We're working hard, it's just not going in right now," Lehner said after practice Wednesday. "For me, I just try to take it save by save right now and do my best."

Against Edmonton, Lehner stopped 39 of 41 shots, giving up a pair of goals to rookie superduperstar Connor McDavid. The first of those came just 22 seconds into the game after a Buffalo turnover allowed McDavid to skate in alone. The last ended the game in overtime, on a backhander Lehner probably wishes he had back.

"They came out strong. We ... gave them a little bit too much space," Lehner said. "They had a lot of good chances. They're a fast team. They took advantage of their speed. They really forced us to make a lot of mistakes yesterday. I think they wheeled around our 'D' like five times."

One of those came on McDavid's overtime winner, when he shot down the right wing around defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen for the game-winning goal.

"He has tremendous speed," Lehner said of McDavid. "I think he's going to cut in and go far post, and then he catches me in a transition, which is unfortunate. You give a team 41-plus shots and a lot of chances, you're going to make some mistakes."

The problem right now is Lehner can't afford any of them. The Sabres are stuck in a serious goal-scoring slump, with just 12 in their past seven games.

Lehner said Wednesday he'd be lying if he said that hasn't changed his approach.

"When we're scoring a lot usually you can play a little bit looser as a goalie," he said. "A mistake might not be as costly, but I'm trying to stay calm. It's just been a little tough period offensively for us. We're battling hard, it's just not going in for us right now. That's frustrating. You can play as good as you want, if you don't win it still" stinks.

By now, Sabres fans are well aware that Leaner wears his emotions on his sleeve. But Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said that hasn't been an issue.

"I don't sense any frustration or any thought about the lack of goal support for Robin right now," the coach said. "His mindset, his demeanor, he's been strong and consistent in net."

Lehner has made only 16 starts this season, so Bylsma is still learning about him as a goalie.

"He's the only one I've ever had who has come to the bench and been a cheerleader for the team and a guy who's prodding the guys forward," Bylsma said. "I think it's pretty normal for him. When we got the lead in San Jose, he came to the bench and was harping on playing the right way and finishing it off, so it's not just for working to get another goal. I think he's been excellent in net, consistent in net, and strong in net for us. It's showed throughout whether it's been when we've won a game or been behind in games."

In his 16 games, Lehner has a .933 save percentage and 2.29 goals-against average. That save percentage would lead the league if he had enough games played to qualify.

"He's definitely doing his part, that's for sure," Sabres winger Evander Kane said. "As a team, we need to find ways to get more opportunities – get more Grade-A opportunities, and find ways to just get everybody involved in the offense.

"We're in a bit of a funk right now offensively. We need to get over it quickly. Obviously our goaltending, if that continues, we're going to be in good shape if we start putting some goals in the back of the net."

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