Sabres Notebook: Lehner is sharp in return to crease - The Buffalo News
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Sabres Notebook: Lehner is sharp in return to crease

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner missed three games with the flu and had not played in 10 days. With those points as a backdrop, how did Lehner bounce back Sunday in MTS Centre? With his best game of the season.

Lehner made 37 saves and stopped all 12 shots he faced over six power plays as the Buffalo Sabres stopped the Winnipeg Jets, 3-1, for their second win in two days.

"I felt good. I started to lose my breath a little bit in the end but that's to be expected after a week," said Lehner, who made 16 saves in the third period. "We've had two very solid performances back to back. We've got to learn from this and keep seeing where we're getting success."

Lehner was quiet in his crease and did a good job most of the time corralling rebounds. Perhaps his best save came in the third period shortly after Nikolaj Ehlers cut the Sabres' lead to two goals, when rookie sensation Patrik Laine burst into the Buffalo zone and fired a laser of a snapshot that Lehner corralled with his glove.

"I thought he was really solid, looked really comfortable in net, the most he looked all year," said coach Dan Bylsma. "The save he made after they made it 3-1, the glove save on Laine coming down the wing there, to me was the biggest save of the game."

"I didn't know that it was him shooting," Lehner said of Laine, who entered Sunday tied for the NHL lead with six goals. "It was a 3-on-2, he got into the middle and got the shot off but I thought my positioning was good. They have a lot of big screens in front so I had to play a little deeper."

The Sabres, however, worked hard to keep shot lanes clear and give Lehner a chance to see every puck.

"They're a very fast team and they're going to have their chances," Lehner said of the Jets. "But looking at Saturday and looking at today, we're definitely playing smart and playing to what we're good at. It helps a lot."

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Bylsma said Sabres winger Nicolas Deslauriers is going to be out weeks with a knee injury suffered in a mid-ice collision in the final two minutes Saturday against Florida. Nicholas Baptiste was called up from Rochester -- and flew here Sunday morning from the Amerks' trip in St. John's, Newfoundland, to make it for a 2 p.m. local start. Baptiste played eight minutes on the fourth line and had three shots on goal.

Forward Hudson Fasching left the game in the first period after playing just one shift with what the team said was a groin injury. Bylsma had no update on Fasching's status but acknowledged the Sabres will likely need another forward to come up from Rochester for practice Monday in Minnesota and for Tuesday's game there against the Wild.

There's no shortage of candidates producing in Rochester over the first seven games. St. Joe's product Cole Schneider has four goals and six assists and entered Sunday tied for second in the AHL with 10 points. Cal O'Reilly (2-6-8), Evan Rodrigues (3-3-6), Justin Bailey (3-1-4), William Carrier (3-1-4) and first-round pick Alex Nylander (1-3-4) have all been collecting points to help the Amerks to a 4-3 start.

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The big trade between the Sabres and Jets in February, 2015 was a non-factor in Sunday's meeting as three of the main principals were out with injuries.

Evander Kane, of course, remains sidelined for the Sabres with four cracked ribs. The Jets played Sunday's game without winger Drew Stafford, who missed his third straight game with an upper body injury, and defenseman Tyler Myers, who missed his first of the season with a lower-body injury suffered in Friday's 1-0 win over Colorado.

Myers finished that game and played a season-high 27 minutes, 19 seconds, so there was no sign anything was amiss. The Jets did not practice Saturday, so the first indication Myers was out was when the team took the ice for warmups and the 6-foot-8 former Sabres first-round draft pick was replaced by Paul Postma.

Myers has two goals, a plus-1 rating and is averaging 23:51 of ice time. Stafford, who turned 31 on Sunday, has one assist in six games. Former Sabres No. 1 pick Joel Armia saw his career-high three-game point streak snapped Sunday. Armia had one shot on goal while playing 15:30.

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Sabres winger Matt Moulson had a season-high five shots on goal in another strong performance. That's more shots than any game Moulson played last season and his most in a regulation game since he had seven at Florida on Dec. 6, 2014. ... Buffalo backup goaltender Anders Nilsson's stats from his three games last week: 1-1-1, 1.95 goals-against average, .938 save percentage. ... Ryan O'Reilly went 17-10 on faceoffs Sunday after going 18-9 in the circle in Saturday's win over Florida. He's at 62.6 percent for the season, fourth in the NHL. ... Defenseman Casey Nelson continues to be Buffalo's healthy scratch. He has not played since the season opener Oct. 13 against Montreal.

email: mharrington@buffnews.com

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