Robin Lehner’s success against his former team continued on Tuesday night, as he helped the Buffalo Sabres beat the Ottawa Senators 3-2. He is now 4-0-2 against the team that drafted him, and he has yet to allow more than two goals against them.
With the game fairly even in the first period and the beginning of the second, the Senators took over the latter majority of the middle frame. They were unable to maintain that momentum after the break, as the Sabres scored two goals early to retake the lead and win the game.
The Senators, including Anderson, found themselves off guard quickly. A quick turnaround in the neutral zone led to a set up on Ryan O’Reilly’s stick. Side by side with Kyle Okposo, he received a very short but effective pass. He lost no time with the puck, snapping it above Anderson’s glove.
Mark Stone facilitated a couple of early chances soon after the goal, but the Sabres were effective in keeping the Senators to the outside.
Mike Hoffman received a glorious chance, as he found himself all alone in the slot. He released his signature one time shot, but Lehner was in a good position to make the saves.
Bobby Ryan, who was the victim of a so-called demotion, tipped an Erik Karlsson point shot to put it past Lehner. He scored that goal while on the ice with Mike Hoffman and Zack Smith, providing the possibility of that being a legitimate line combination.
Jack Eichel was arguably the best player on the ice in the second period. With his strength and speed, he created a few opportunities in which he muscled through the Ottawa defence to get a shot on goal. It allowed him to draw a penalty, his speed only impeded by the hook of a stick.
Fredrick Claesson had a moment in which he impressed late in the period. He had a few shot attempts on goal from the point all in the same sequence, pressuring the Sabres in their zone. The play was indicative of the entire period, as the Senators got the last 14 shots in a row.
Just a few moments later, the Sabres line changed on the fly after the got the puck out. Dion Phaneuf initiated the transition back, taking advantage of the opposition changing their players. He gave the puck to Ryan at his side, allowing him to crash the net. He poked in Ryan’s rebound, slipping the puck underneath Lehner.
The Sabres were able to get their bearings back at the beginning of the period. Eichel made a good move to bring the puck to the net, and Sam Reinhart put it in a more ideal spot. Matt Moulson found that loose puck floating in the crease and put it past Anderson.
They were able to build off that, getting a few good scoring chances off the rush. The Sabres were unable to convert because the passes were just out of reach. Despite getting the momentum in the third, a play by Lehner trying to play the puck way out of his net and turned it over.
Justin Bailey battled with Phaneuf in front of the net as Sabres defencemen controlled the puck on the blueline. Jake McCabe directed the shot on net, and Bailey was able to tip the puck barely within legal height to put it past Anderson.
It came out as the game-winning goal, as the Senators’ attempt at tying the game up were strongly evident, but they were unable to generate too many shots on net. They saw the Sabres deflect most of their attempts away while maintaining a tight-checking game in the end to protect their thin lead.
BUF – Ryan O’Reilly (12) assisted by Kyle Okposo (20) & Justin Falk (7)
OTT – Bobby Ryan (12) assisted by Erik Karlsson (38) & Fredrick Claesson (5)
OTT – Dion Phaneuf (8) assisted by Bobby Ryan (11)
BUF – Matt Moulson (12) assisted by Sam Reinhart (24) & Jack Eichel (17)
BUF – Justin Bailey (2) assisted by Jake McCabe (10) & Rasmus Ristolainen (29)
THW Three Stars
First: Robin Lehner (39 saves, .951 save percentage)
Second: Ryan O’Reilly (goal, 4 SOG, 57% on faceoffs, 21:49 TOI)
Third: Bobby Ryan (goal, assist, 6 SOG, 7 hits)
Ottawa Senators at New Jersey Devils
Prudential Center – 7 p.m. EST on Thursday, February 16
Broadcast channels: TSN5 & MSG+
Buffalo Sabres vs. Colorado Avalanche
KeyBank Center – 7:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, February 16
Broadcast channels: NBCSN