It was the second straight solid game by Buffalo Sabres goalie Robin Lehner. Tonight it was versus his former team the Ottawa Senators at First Niagara Center in downtown Buffalo, New York. Tonight the big lanky fella had some scoring help along with the return of defensemen Jake McCabe and Josh Gorges. Both back from injuries.
Lehner earned his 1st shutout of the season by stopping all 37 shots thus boosting his record on the season to 13-13-6, including a 5-1-1 record over his last seven games. Robin has taken his share of criticism so far, however, tonight every part of the team game was in sync. That alone makes it much easier on everyone.
The Sabres opened the scoring when Kyle Okposo took the pass from Justin Falk skated in on Senators goalie Mike Condon and fired a backhander over his right shoulder for the 1-0 lead at 10:11 of the opening frame. Josh Gorges also assisted on Okposo’s 16th of the season.
Then at 16:51 of the second Ryan O’Reilly scored his 10th off a perfect tip shot fired from the blueline by Rasmus Ristolainen. Tyler Ennis also picked up an assist on the goal. O’Reilly now has accumulated 13 pts. (3g, 10a) in his last 14 games. Also in that period was a bit of “Old Time Hockey.” The Senators Mark Borowiecki had been running at Sabres star forward Jack Eichel at will up until this point. Well, his linemate Marcus Foligno had enough and challenged Borowiecki to a throw down. He made a wrong decision, and Foligno made a big statement with the fans and his teammates that said: “Don’t mess with Jack!”
Buffalo went into the third period with the mindset to keep the pace going and not let up for a second. A two-goal lead is nothing in this league, and the Sabres needed to finish strong and put this team away for a much-needed win in the standings and their psyches.
Let up? They did no such thing. At 5:53 Sam Reinhart took a nifty little pass from Jack Eichel shot the puck on net and then picked up his own rebound and lifted the puck up over the glove of the goalie for a 3-0 Sabres lead. The goal was Reinhart’s 11th of the season.
The Sabres weren’t done adding to the scoresheet yet as Marcus Foligno caught Mike Condon’s replacement in goal, Andrew Hammond with just enough room for the puck on the short side for his 9th of the season. Jack Eichel picked up the assist on the goal for his 2nd point of the night. The goal was scored at the 10:51 mark of the period.
The Sabres with strong defensive play along with solid goaltending the rest of the way solidified the win and come away with the shutout as well. It was one of the best all-around team efforts I’ve seen thus far in this New Year. It’s amazing what can happen when you get some healthy bodies back.
The Sabres next action will Monday night in East Rutherford, New Jersey to take on the Devils. The game is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. They will then head right back home to entertain the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night.
Robin Lehner shuts the door on his former squad!
37 saves for the SHUTOUT! ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/l4ypgLSnRW
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) February 5, 2017