OSHAWA, Ont. – The Sabres wrap up the preseason Friday night against the New York Islanders and there will be a familiar face in the opposing goal crease at Tribute Communities Centre.
Robin Lehner, Buffalo's starter much of the last three seasons, will get the call for the Islanders and split duties with Thomas Greiss against Sabres starter Carter Hutton. The Islanders enter the game 5-2 in the preseason with four straight wins. Buffalo (2-4) has dropped four straight.
"It's always weird the first couple of times you meet an old team," Lehner told The Buffalo News after his team's morning skate. "But it's going to be fun playing against my old teammates. I have a lot of good friends still over there."
Lehner is 3-1 in the preseason with a 2.83 goals-against average and .889 save percentage. After the Sabres walked away from his contract as a restricted free agent following last season, Lehner signed a one-year, $1.5-million deal with the Islanders. He said goalie coaches Mitch Korn and Piero Greco have completely broken down his techniques in the crease and are now building them back up in preparation for next week's regular season opener.
"It's positive to me but it's still a little hard in camp," Lehner said. "You have things in your mind and aren't playing as automatic as you'd like to be. I'm embracing change. It will take time but they're two very smart, experienced hockey people."
Stay tuned for more on Lehner later today.
This game was scheduled for Oshawa last winter because it was the junior home of Islanders star John Tavares. But Tavares, of course, signed as a free agent over the winter with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the game lost its hometown connection.
The Sabres did not skate today, opting for an unspecified team bonding activity. Jack Eichel, Rasmus Ristolainen, Marco Scandella, Zach Bogosian and Johan Larsson all sat out practice Thursday and coach Phil Housley said after the workout they would not be in the lineup tonight.
The Sabres played an exhibition here in each of their first three seasons at the old Civic Auditorium, where Bobby Orr and Eric Lindros played their junior games for the Oshawa Generals. Their last visit was a 3-3 tie against the California Golden Seals on Sept. 26, 1972.