After getting beat by the hottest player in the National Hockey League, Robin Lehner skated over to the Buffalo Sabres bench, wound his goalie stick up like a baseball bat and thought about taking a swing. He thought better of it. But the frustration was palpable.
Lehner gave up two goals to Filip Forsberg, who scored with 2:23 left in regulation to send the game to overtime then netted the OT winner as the Nashville Predators left KeyBank Center with a 5-4 win.
“At the end of the day we gave up five goals. That’s a team thing,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. “That’s not just a goaltender thing. It’s too many goals to be giving up to think you’re going to win a hockey game.”
After taking a 2-0 first-period lead, Nashville outshot the Sabres, 35-12, the rest of regulation. Lehner turned away plenty of pucks and tried to bail out his defense, too. Nashville’s Mike Fisher burst down the center of the ice, coasting by Zach Bogosian. Fisher was en route to a breakaway so Lehner came out of the net to poke check the puck away. But he missed, sliding far out of the net. Bogosian couldn’t recover and Fisher scored to put the Predators on the board with 1:11 left in the first period.
On the overtime game-winner, Forsberg was on a two-on-one break with Ryan Johansen. Bogosian was in the middle defending and Lehner looked to be cheating to cover the pass when Forsberg snapped a shot high glove side.
Lehner did not speak to the media after the game, but was eager Tuesday morning to return to the net after missing Sunday’s game in Arizona.
Lehner arrived late to the morning skate but immediately went on the ice as soon as he was cleared by doctors.
Lehner got hit in the head several times during Saturday’s start in Colorado, including a big blow by the Avalanche’s Tyson Barrie.
“In the second period, Barrie hits me with a pretty big hit right in the head, blindsided me pretty much,” Lehner said. “I got some small symptoms, but it was all neck related and I passed all my concussion testing. So I’m happy there’s nothing bad.”
Lehner has a history with concussions, suffering one in February 2015 while playing for the Ottawa Senators that sidelined him for months. While Lehner said the hits in Colorado didn’t worry him, it was a relief to hear his headache was neck related and not concussion related.
“I wasn’t worried that much,” Lehner said. “It was a minor, minor, minor, minor headache. We just were precautionary and went through testing and wanted to do everything right. It was a pretty big hit, too, so to be on the safe side of things. I wasn’t very worried.”
Speaking of Forsberg, he is the first NHL player to score 10 goals in five games since Pavel Bure in March 2001.
Forsberg, who had hat tricks in back-to-back games last week, credits much of his scoring success to linemates Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson.
“Obviously it’s a little rare what’s going on right now but it’s fun,” Forsberg said. “Obviously our line is playing really well and Joey and Arvi are working really hard. Yeah, I mean, Arvi on the first goal Arvi made a hell of a play on the blue line and yeah, I just tried to finish it off. All credit to him.”
P.K. Subban called Forsberg “the best player in the league right now the way he’s playing. He’s just got to continue, whatever he’s doing, I don’t know what it is, just continue doing it.”
For his part, Forsberg deflected that accolade.
“No, I can’t say that,” Forsberg said when told Subban called him the best player in the league right now. “Obviously there’s too many good players but, yeah, I’m just happy to help the team to get the two points.”
The Sabres made their first trade of deadline season Tuesday and it involved minor league players. Buffalo acquired defenseman Mat Bodie from the New York Rangers in exchange for Daniel Catenacci.
Bodie ranks 12th among all AHL defensemen with 30 points (eight goals, 22 assists) in 45 games for the Hartford Wolf Pack. In 196 career AHL games, Bodie has 98 points. He signed as an undrafted free agent after winning the NCAA championship in 2014 with Union.
Catenacci, 23, had five goals and eight assists in 50 games this season for Rochester. He has played most of the last five seasons for the Amerks after being taken in the third round by the Sabres in 2011. He played 11 games for Buffalo last season without recording a point.
The Buffalo Sabres closed out the NHL’s “Hockey is for Everyone” month by celebrating women’s hockey at Tuesday’s game.
While the women’s game has grown at all levels, it’s something that just was part of Matt Moulson’s upbringing.
The Sabres forward is the older brother of Shannon Moulson, who played her collegiate hockey for the now-defunct program at Niagara University. She is in her fifth season playing defense for the Toronto Furies of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League – a professional women’s league that predates the National Women’s Hockey League, home of the Buffalo Beauts.
Matt, 33, remembers skating with his two younger siblings, Shannon (30) and Chris (28) when they grew up in Mississauga, Ontario.
“I don’t know if we talk too much hockey as brother and sister but we’ve always skated, the three of us – my brother, my sister and I,” Matt said in KeyBank Center Tuesday morning. “My dad would have us out there in the morning skating together. Played pond hockey together. I don’t know if she played as much pond hockey as my brother and I but we were always involved hockey.”
And the fact that his sister was playing, and excelling, well, her gender never really crossed his mind.
“As kids we didn’t know any different,” Moulson said. “She was always very athletic. She even played lacrosse with the boys. She actually played boys’ hockey up until maybe even a year of body-checking. She was probably one of the biggest on her team. I don’t think we thought any differently. She was very athletic and loved sports.”
The Sabres honored women in the game Tuesday including the Buffalo Beauts, Nichols hockey coach and U.S. gold medalist Shelley Looney and Buffalo native Maureen Murphy who won gold with Team USA in January at the IIHF Women’s Under-18 World Championship.
On Tuesday the Buffalo Sabres Foundation made a $500,000 commitment to five local hockey organizations.
The team will make $100,000 donations to SABAH, Hasek’s Heroes, Buffalo Sabres Warriors, Buffalo Sabres Thunder Special Hockey Team and Buffalo Sabres Sled Hockey Team. The donation will be spread out over a five-year period with each organization receiving $20,000 per year. The organizations were chosen for their continued efforts to bring hockey to disabled individuals, disadvantaged youth, and veterans.