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Johnson to start for Sabres as Lehner gets weekend off to heal

The Sabres will give Robin Lehner the weekend off with the hope that his sore ankle will heal quickly.

“For the next two, three days we’ll just rest and rehab on that ankle,” coach Dan Bylsma said Friday morning while preparing for the Ottawa Senators. “The high-ankle sprain is just one you deal with for a long time. I don’t think at any one point in time he hasn’t been dealing with it since he’s come back.”

Lehner missed the opening three months with an ankle sprain. Buffalo has only 11 games remaining, but there has not been talk of shutting Lehner down for the season.

“That’s not the thought process right now,” Bylsma said.

Chad Johnson will start against the Senators in First Niagara Center and could go back-to-back when the Sabres visit Toronto on Saturday.

“If it’s a lot of games or a few games, it doesn’t change my mindset,” said Johnson, who is 16-14-3 with a .918 save percentage. “Even if Robin’s here or not here, I always prepare to play every game.”

Buffalo has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from Rochester to serve as Johnson’s backup. Lieuwen is 14-10-1 with a .911 save percentage for the Amerks. He missed most of last season with a concussion. He appeared in seven games with the Sabres in 2013-14.

“I feel like I’ve gotten better as the year’s gone on,” Lieuwen said. “I’ve continued to work on the things that I needed to. Obviously, I didn’t get a ton of offseason to get stronger, so throughout the season I’ve got a bit stronger and feel more solid on my feet. I’m feeling good.”

The Sabres have also summoned defenseman Chad Ruhwedel from Rochester to replace Carlo Colaiacovo, who is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Ruhwedel has eight goals and 22 points in 46 games. Ruhwedel finished last season in Buffalo but has had to wait until the 72nd game for a call-up.

“At the end of the day the guy beat you out for a spot in training camp and you’ve got to work your way up the rest of the season,” Ruhwedel said. “You’ve just got to keep your head down and get back to work.”

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