Lehner, Islanders hand Sabres third straight loss

Islanders Sabres Hockey_1546307047152

Buffalo Sabres forward Jason Pominville (29) skates between New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield (24) and goalie Robin Lehner (40) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Dec. 31, 2018, in Buffalo N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

In his first game back in Buffalo, former Sabres netminder Robin Lehner put on a clinic, turning away 39 of the 40 shots he faced in a 3-1 win on Monday.

“He played a really good game tonight. You tip your cap to them,” Kyle Okposo said of Lehner’s effort.  “We saw it when he was here when we played against Ottawa. tonight I thought he did a good job, he stole the game for them. he just made one more save.”

With the loss the Sabres have now dropped three straight games.  Since their 10 game winning streak ended, in total, Buffalo has now lost 11 of their last 15.

The loss has some added sting to it after star centerman Jack Eichel exited after playing just four shifts.  Head Coach Phil Housley said Eichel had an “upper body injury” but didn’t think he’d miss too much time.

Despite a strong opening period and 12 shots, the Sabres and Islanders heading into the first intermission scoreless.

Nick Leddy opened the scoring for New York firing a shot from the point past Carter Hutton to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead.

Trailing 2-0 following a goal from Brock Nelson, Okposo got the Blue & Gold on the board with his sixth of the season, which snapped a 21-game goalless drought for the winger.

However, despite outshooting New York 13-3 in the third, that would be the only offense for Buffalo.

“The start of our third period, even though we got down two, the guys responded in the right way,” Housley said.  “They fought until the end. It’s one of those things, we’re throwing everything at the net, their netminder made some big saves. The pucks weren’t going in the net. really good zone presence, good net front presence, all the things we talked about that we have to do more consistently.”

The Sabres return to the ice Thursday when they host the Panthers.

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