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Roll the highlight film for Lehner in OT victory

MONTREAL -- The Sabres roll the highlight film, as Rick Jeanneret famously says, every night in KeyBank Center with a franchise retrospective package that includes 10-bell saves from Ryan Miller and Martin Biron as well as Dominik Hasek's we-are-not-worthy classic.

When they return home next month, there's a new highlight to add. What Robin Lehner did to Montreal's Alex Galchenyuk in overtime Saturday night in Bell Centre was historically larcenous.

Seemingly down and out, Lehner desperately dove to his left to spear Galchenyuk's labeled blast with his catching glove to keep his team alive. And 19 seconds later, Lehner was rewarded with a 3-2 victory over the Canadiens when Zach Bogosian's slapper at 1:48 of OT burned Habs stalwart Carey Price.

Alexander Radulov made the play on the night's marquee moment with a nifty back pass to seemingly give Galchenyuk plenty of room to hand the Sabres a gut-punch of a defeat. But Lehner pushed off strong, extended his giant left paw and grabbed the puck behind the dive of Evander Kane to keep Buffalo afloat. It was his 36th save of the night.

"It happened pretty fast. It was nice to feel it in my glove," Lehner said. "I was surprised. Radulov did it twice to me today, came across the center of the ice and kept me going with him before he passed it back against the grain. He's a very good player and I was just fortunate I got back."

Lehner downplayed things some by saying he made a few similar saves during Calder Cup runs in Binghamton, but his teammates were suitably wowed.

"I don't know if there will be a better one this year," said Buffalo defenseman Cody Franson, who tied the game by beating Price on a screened shot with 8:07 left. "That's a pretty impressive save obviously. If you watch the replay of our bench, everyone gets pretty excited from that."

Lehner was strong in net all night in a game that had plenty of meaning for him after he was pulled Tuesday in Toronto and got caught in the middle of a media firestorm in Canada's center of the hockey universe.

"I really wanted to have a bounceback game today," Lehner admitted. "We got into this building, go into overtime and we win it. That's a great feeling. Things got a little bit bigger than they should have been. You move on with your life, look for the next game.

"It was a good opportunity. These stages are why you want to play. It's fun to play in Toronto too. I don't have a problem there, it's just the good old folks after the game there that can be the problem."

Coach Dan Bylsma sensed this game had a deeper meaning for his No. 1 goaltender as well, especially since Lehner's 2.54 goals-against average and .920 save percentage coming in probably deserved better than a 10-12-5 record.

"To me, that save kind of really was a turning point for Robin," Bylsma said. "That puck goes in the net and it's he plays a real good game for us and he comes up on the losing end. Give credit to Robin. He played a very good game all game, made a number of good saves for us but comes up with the winning save."

It was a save that had the crowd roaring in disbelief.

"Everyone thought the game was over," Bylsma said. "The cage was wide open and somehow Robin recovers with a huge glove save. I think the fans half cheered for a goal. It was like it was in the back of the net and turned into a gasp that it was in his glove and actually made the save."

Galchenyuk, just back after missing 18 games with a knee injury, was receiving medical treatment after the game and did not speak to reporters.

Lehner matched Price save for save in a goaltending duel which developed into a free-skating affair that saw the shots on goal end even at 38-38.

"It's fun to see. It's good for the game," Bogosian said. "It's something where they made a nice play to get their guy open and 'Lenny' stuck with it and showed what kind of goaltender he can be with a save like that."

Price got the game to overtime by stopping Matt Moulson on a breakaway with 20 seconds left in regulation and then snapping in Rasmus Ristolainen's drive with his catching mitt with 6.3 seconds left -- drawing a roaring standing ovation from the crowd of 21,288.

"The fans responded like I've never seen on a save from a goaltender," Bylsma said. "It's easy to put together the highlights of this one."

The Sabres got plenty of contributions aside from Lehner. Ryan O'Reilly assisted on the tying and winning goals and won 19 faceoffs, giving him a 40-21 record in the circle the last two nights. Ristolainen (29:36), Bogosian (25:12) and Franson (21:28) all were stellar on the injury-plagued blueline. Bogosian's goal on a 3-on-2 break was his first of the season.

Lo and behold, you see what overtime wins on back-to-back nights and a 3-1 week can do for the Sabres. They're now just four points behind Toronto for the second Eastern Conference wild-card and five behind Boston for third place in the Atlantic. And they have renewed belief in their No. 1 goaltender.

"I think he's been portrayed as a totally different person than what he's actually like," Bogosian said. "Nothing can break what we have in here. This team is extremely close and Robin is a huge part of our team. Saves like tonight, games like tonight make you happy for him. He has put in a lot of work over the last year to make himself a better goaltender and it's good to see him get rewarded."


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