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Sabres Notebook: Nilsson always ready for the call to the net

There was just over two minutes left in the first period in Ottawa on Tuesday night when Robin Lehner took the opportunity of a whistle to skate to the Sabres bench.

The move took most people by surprise, but not his goaltending partner Anders Nilsson.

"He kind of gave me a little heads up a little bit before that he wasn’t feeling quite 100 percent. So I was ready," Nilsson said after taking an optional skate in KeyBank Center Wednesday afternoon. "Obviously it’s not fun to see your friend and goalie partner go down but unfortunately that’s part of the game sometimes. As a backup you always have to be ready for stepping in."

Nilsson let in three goals on 29 shots. Not the best performance but good enough to backstop the Sabres to a  5-4 win against the Senators.

"A few plays were difficult for him and he had to battle through it," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said of Nilsson's performance.

Nilsson should start Thursday when the Sabres host the New York Rangers at 7 p.m. in KeyBank Center.

Whether Lehner will back up Nilsson or if the Sabres recall Linus Ullmark from the Rochester Americans is a decision to be made Thursday morning.

"I don’t have any further update other than what we kind of gave last night,"Bylsma said about Lehner's injury. "It’s his hip and it’s day to day. He’s lobbying to back up (against the Rangers) but he’s going to see how it is in the morning. Again, it looks like it’s just day to day."

Bylsma said Lehner suffered the injury on the goal scored by Mike Hoffman at 13:47 of the first period.

"He hurt it on the goal and then he was out there for another four minutes," Bylsma said. "He didn’t have anything going on for about three minutes and he stepped out to play that puck and it kind of cramped up on him and didn’t have any strength at the time. Came out of the game at that point."

Tuesday's game in Ottawa was the first time this season Nilsson had to spell Lehner during the game. In seven appearances, Nilsson has a 2.20 goals against and a .939 save percentage.

Nilsson has two career games against the Rangers. In those games he is 1-1, allowing a total of eight goals on 54 shots.

Ullmark has played in 14 games for the Amerks with a 2.99 goals against and a .909 save percentage. The Amerks play at Utica Wednesday night.


The New York Rangers come to town after a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Carolina in Madison Square Garden Tuesday. The Hurricanes took a 2-0 first-period lead before the Rangers came back with unassisted goals from Nick Holden and Rick Nash while Jimmy Vesey scored the game-winner on the power play.

The Rangers entered Wednesday with the lead in the Metropolitan Division with a 16-7-1 overall mark and a 6-3-1 record in their last 10 games. They have not won back-to-back games since winning three straight from Nov. 12-15 beating Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver to sweep a western road trip.


When Ryan O'Reilly scored his first goal in Ottawa, he was without his helmet. It was a good look for O'Reilly and Bylsma had some fun with it on Wednesday.

"I think he should get the Craig MacTavish exemption and play without the bucket the whole time," Bylsma said.

MacTavish, who last played in 1997, was the last NHL player to not wear a helmet during games.


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