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Lehner sick, so Nilsson to start for Sabres

The Sabres’ crease will be filled by someone other than Robin Lehner for the first time Tuesday. In fact, the goaltender won’t even be in the arena.

Lehner is sick and won’t travel to Philadelphia for Tuesday’s game against the Flyers. Anders Nilsson will start in goal for the Sabres, who have called up Linus Ullmark from Rochester to serve as Nilsson's backup.

“Since Day One of camp, Anders has been a complete professional and warrior in net,” coach Dan Bylsma said after practice Monday. “He’s battled in every practice, every scrimmage, every opportunity he got. He’s done that through the rest of training camp, through the season. He’s put himself in every situation to have success when he’s going to get his chance, and it’s going to be tomorrow against Philly.”

Nilsson had an impressive preseason with the Sabres, including stopping 49 of 50 shots through his first two games. He feels he’s been staying ready with focused practice habits.

“It all comes down to practice and how you prepare in practice,” Nilsson said in KeyBank Center. “You go out there for practice and try to see it as a game. For me, that’s the best way to prepare.”

Sabres goaltending coach Andrew Allen has been impressed.

“We work a lot in practice on being focused and playing it like a game situation, even the drills we do before practice,” Allen said. “He’s practiced well every day.”

Allen, who played college and minor-league hockey, served as the Sabres’ second goalie with Lehner out. The 40-year-old has donned the pads just once in the past five years, so he was clearly rusty.

“I got a little better as practice went on, but the first drill was tough,” Allen said with a smile. “Reaction speed is not what it used to be.”

 

 

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