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Sabres' Lehner frustrated with one win in last 10 decisions

Robin Lehner is well-aware he has won only once in his past 10 decisions.

“It’s frustrating,” the Sabres goaltender said Sunday, “but I’ve got to move on and look for the next one.”

It’s likely Lehner will get his chance at another win Tuesday when the Los Angeles Kings come to Buffalo, but there have been increasing calls for Anders Nilsson to get more playing time. Nilsson has won three straight to improve to 5-1-1 in his last seven decisions. Lehner is 1-6-3 since Nov. 7.

It’s a maddening stretch for the netminder, who has seen the losses pile up despite some decent efforts.

“We go through a lot of video, go through a lot of things,” Lehner said in HarborCenter. “There’s a lot of positives this year when it comes to myself and how I play. There’s certain things I’m still adjusting in my game on a daily basis with” goaltending coach Andrew Allen, “and I feel really good in practice.

“There’s not been many bad goals this year. It’s small details. It’s right there. It’s just not bouncing the way I want. I don’t accept that, and I just want to keep going.”

Lehner’s numbers during the 10-game stretch are pedestrian. He has a .914 save percentage and 2.66 goals-against average. But he’s twice taken overtime losses after allowing just one goal in regulation, and he suffered a loss after giving up two goals to Boston.

“He feels that frustration level,” coach Dan Bylsma said. “He really doesn’t give a care about the stats and percentages and whatnot. He’s played real well for us, played steady for us, hasn’t got a lot of run support in a lot of his games. As a result, he hasn’t gotten a lot of wins for us.

“He’s played well, but it’s really all about the wins and losses. We just maybe haven’t been there for him. When he’s played well, we haven’t been there for him to get him the run support to win games.”

During Lehner’s last 10 decisions, the Sabres have scored only 14 goals – and four came in one game. Buffalo has been blanked once and scored only one time in six other games.

“We’re trying,” Lehner said. “As I’ve said before, we’re playing a little bit different in games sometimes, one period a certain way and another period another way. That’s a big thing we’re trying to adjust as a team.

“But yeah, it’s been a little frustrating. I’m trying to let in less and less goals, but it’s tough.”

Opposing goaltenders have a .954 save percentage during Lehner’s slump. Some of that is nice saves, but mostly it’s the Sabres’ inept offense. Buffalo has an NHL-worst shooting percentage of 6.8 percent.

“There’s been a couple of stretches this year where there’s not been many goals,” Lehner said. “We as  goalies have to work through it and try to do the best with it.”

While he hasn’t gotten support, Lehner is trying to give as much as he can. He even complimented the Sabres’ penalty-kill unit, which has been pitiful at just 56.3 percent in the last 12 games.

“I really like our penalty kill,” Lehner said. “We’re still doing a lot of good things, but it’s that little bit extra that’s missing. There’s been a bunch of goals where we’ve basically killed off the penalty, and they ended up coming in at the end. It’s like, ‘Uhhh.’ We’re just letting it go for the last little bit and they come up with a goal. It happened last game and a couple games before that.

“We’re letting up a little bit, and maybe we need that extra 5, 10 percent to get an extra blocked shot. The goal in the third period last game, it’s a little bit extra, someone get in front, me knocking over Marcus Johansson in the front of the net, just a little bit extra competitiveness.

“If we’re a little harder that PK, it’s 2-1 and we might have come back and tied it. Who knows?”

The only thing he knows for certain is he got dealt another loss. They’re piling up.

“It sucks,” Lehner said. “There’s no other way of putting it.”

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