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Sabres notebook: Bad ankle dogs Lehner; ailing Kane done

Instability.

That’s the word best used to describe the problem with Robin Lehner’s right ankle according to Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma.

The team announced Lehner had successful surgery on his ankle Wednesday and would miss the rest of the regular season.

Thursday morning before the Sabres hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs at First Niagara Center, Bylsma shed a little bit of light on the recent ankle issue for the starting goalie.

“You deal with a high-ankle sprain for months after you come back … the last two weeks for Robin, he probably had a tweak in a game that was a little more significant than the ones he’s been feeling,” Bylsma said. “He came back and had the same feeling seven days later and that’s when you go back for a week of rehab and get an evaluation from the doctor.”

Lehner suffered the high-ankle sprain in the season opener and missed three months before returning to play in 20 games. His latest injury will have him miss the final 11 games.

“The disappointment is he got injured at the outset of the season in Game One and was out for that huge period of time,” Bylsma said. “Once he got back to playing he showed ... us quite a bit what kind of goalie he can be and I think look at the situation a little differently having the surgery now and a full summer of workouts and getting in shape and being able to work out and we can look forward to having him come back in training camp ready to go.”

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Bylsma said that Lehner would be able to begin rehabilitation on the ankle in about four weeks and then, at about six weeks, be ready to resume his normal summer workouts.

The coach also announced that forward Evander Kane’s upper-body injury would have him out of the lineup the rest of the way.

“His upper-body injury is about a two- to three-week injury which will put him out for the remainder of the season,” Bylsma said.

The team has not released the nature of the injury, but replays seem to indicate the injury is with his hand or wrist.

Meanwhile, Bylsma said there is still hope forward Tyler Ennis will be back on the ice with the team before they wrap up the season in New York against the Islanders on April 9. Ennis missed his 41st game Thursday with a concussion.

“There’s no question you have to be patient,” Bylsma said. “There’s no rushing it. He’s done some workouts now for about seven days and is improving and there is a continued sign that he’s getting better. You can’t push it sooner than his body will allow but I talked to Tyler yesterday and he’s really exited where he’s at with the hope he still could come back to practice before the end of the season.”

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Johan Larsson feels he has had opportunities to score all season long, but in his first 54 games he only netted two goals. He now has seven in his last 17 after scoring twice in the Sabres 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in First Niagara Center Thursday night.

“I feel like I had the chance the whole season, it’s just going in for me now,” Larsson said. “With that comes the confidence to make a move and try some passes. It’s just that. I don’t think anything is different. It’s just going in for me and we’re playing good as a line.”

Larsson has been playing with Marcus Foligno and Brian Gionta and the trio had a solid outing. Foligno had the breakout pass and Gionta fed Larsson for the game’s first goal.

Larsson scored again, tallying the empty-netter with three seconds left, then getting into a physical confrontation with Leafs’ forward Nazem Kadri.

“He came and hit me,” Larsson said. “He was mad. They lost. It happens.”

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Ryan O’Reilly had an impressive night in the faceoff circle, winning 24 of the 31 faceoffs he took.

Predictably, O’Reilly wasn’t pleased with the seven he lost.

“I don’t know my exact numbers but there were some good ones,” O’Reilly said. “There were a couple ones I lost clean that gave them opportunities. You’d rather lose and not let them get a good opportunity off it but in general I thought I won a good amount of them, especially on the power play which gives us possession right away. It’s good and hopefully can keep building on that.”

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Rochester Americans forward Patrick Kaleta was named the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award for his outstanding contributions to the Rochester community.

It’s been a challenging year for Kaleta, who will miss the rest of the season with an upper body injury he suffered on Friday. He has played only 26 games for the Amerks between injuries and sitting with the AHL veteran rule.

Amerks coach Randy Cunneyworth also said that defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti and William Carrier will also miss the rest of the season with upper body injuries.

Sanguinetti missed 24 games this season with a nagging injury. Carrier had been on an impressive streak with nine goals and 11 assists in 24 games since late January. He was injured on March 23.

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