FARMERS BRANCH, Texas – As the Sabres celebrated their latest overtime victory, Robin Lehner’s mind drifted back to the last time he allowed four goals and won.
“It’s a long time ago,” he said.
That’s for sure.
Lehner hadn’t picked up a win in a run-and-gun affair since Feb. 4, 2014, when Ottawa earned a 5-4 shootout victory in St. Louis. The only other time was the first start of Lehner’s career on Jan. 13, 2011. The Senators downed the New York Islanders, 6-4.
He can finally add a third game to the list with Buffalo’s 5-4 overtime win Tuesday in Nashville.
“This is a great feeling,” Lehner said. “I kind of like it better.”
All goaltenders love goal support. Lehner got it when Buffalo struck twice in the final six minutes of regulation and rallied past the Predators in OT.
“What a game,” Lehner said. “I’ve got to give the guys a lot of credit.”
Lehner improved to 12-12-5. While this win came on an off night, he’s suffered losses during solid outings. Here are his records this season:
*He’s 4-0-2 when allowing one goal.
*He’s 4-4 when allowing two.
*He’s 3-4-2 when allowing three goals.
*He’s 1-4-1 when allowing four.
“Robin has had a number of games where he’s played well and we haven’t given him the run support,” coach Dan Bylsma said. “He hasn’t gotten the wins, and at times that has weighed on Robin, weighed on his game. This is a game where the guys really support him.”
There were a couple of questionable goals allowed Tuesday. Nashville made it 2-1 when Cody McLeod shot from below the goal line and watched the puck bounce up Lehner’s skate and hop inside the post.
“It looks like a bad goal,” Lehner said. “It is a bad goal. I go in and look at it. I played the post like I did my whole career. I’m usually pretty good at my post work, and it goes on top of my skate and rolls on my skate and in. It was a little bouncy.”
The Predators made it 3-2 when Viktor Arvidsson slipped home his own net-front rebound.
“I tried to poke the rebound and got a little out of synch,” said Lehner, who stopped 35 of 39 shots. “Those goals don’t feel good, but it was small margins and I still felt like I made a lot of good saves. They came and bailed me out, and it was a really good feeling.”
The Sabres will visit the Dallas Stars on Thursday in the final meeting of the season. The first game was just last week, and Buffalo rolled to a 4-1 victory in KeyBank Center.
“We played a great game, shut them down a lot,” Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly said Wednesday in a practice rink north of Dallas. “I think they were very frustrated, and they’ll take it out tomorrow. It’s definitely going to be a gritty game.”
It’s the final game before the All-Star break. With the exception of right wing Kyle Okposo, the Sabres will take the weekend off and visit Montreal on Tuesday.
For the parents/mentors road trip that the Sabres are enjoying, each player was allowed to bring one guest. Since O’Reilly’s brother, Cal, is also up with Buffalo, the O’Reillys got to bring their mom and their dad.
“Every year, parents are fighting over who gets to come,” Ryan O’Reilly said. “It made it easy for us that both could be here. It’s obviously real special.”