Sabres fall to Islanders 3-1 in 2018 finale

Robin Lehner returns to Buffalo and makes 39 saves in a winning effort

Pat Malacaro
December 31, 2018 - 6:07 pm

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports


Robin Lehner made 39 saves against his former team as he helped lead the New York Islanders to a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night at KeyBank Center.

Buffalo controlled much of the play early, but the former Sabres goaltender was up to the task to keep the game scoreless. The blue and gold recorded 12 shots on goal in the opening frame. However, the best save of the period came at the other end of the ice.

Carter Hutton was busy in the second half of the first period, stopping all 15 Islanders shots on goal. Hutton used his stick to deny Josh Bailey's scoring chance in tight. 

Neither team was called for a minor penalty in the opening period. 

Jack Eichel skated on four shifts in the first, but left early and did not return for Buffalo:

The scoreless tie was broken early in the second period after an offensive zone face-off win gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead. Nick Leddy scored the opening goal with a shot through a screen, notching his second of the season. Mathew Barzal and Leo Komarov assisted on the game's first goal.

The game's first penalty was called on the blue and gold when Zach Bogosian was whistled for slashing. New York had a few chances, but failed the score on the man advantage. The Sabres were also up to the task when Jake McCabe was penalized for high sticking.

Just under two minutes into the third period, New York extended the lead to 2-0 thanks to Brock Nelson. The forward's wrist shot from the slot went off of Hutton's glove and bounced across the goal line. The goal came on the Islanders' first shot of the period. Joshua Ho-Sang and Scott Mayfield were credited with the assists on the goal. 

The Sabres' first power play chance of the night came nearly halfway through the third when Barzal was called for slashing. Kyle Okposo capitalized with a wrist shot from the right wing face-off dot to get Buffalo on the board, trailing 2-1. It was Okposo's first goal since November 13 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nathan Beaulieu and Casey Mittelstadt assisted on the power play goal.

New York added an empty net goal with under a minute to go in regulation with Hutton on the bench in favor of an extra attacker. Adam Pelech scored the empty net goal for the visitors. It was just the third recorded shot on goal for the Islanders in the final frame.


Goal Summary:

First Period:


Second Period:

NYI: 2:59 - Nick Leddy (2) (Mathew Barzal, Leo Komarov)

Third Period:

BUF: 10:14 - Kyle Okposo (6) PPG (Nathan Beaulieu, Casey Mittelstadt)
NYI: 1:45 - Brock Nelson (13) (Joshua Ho-Sang, Scott Mayfield); 19:28 - Adam Pelech (3) ENG (Robin Lehner)


Penalty Summary

First Period:


Second Period:

BUF: 7:35 - Zach Bogosian (Slashing - 2 min.); 11:41 - Jake McCabe (High sticking - 2 min.)

Third Period:

NYI: 8:32 - Mathew Barzal (Slashing - 2 min.); 13:07 - Scott Mayfield (Tripping - 2 min.)

Shots on Goal:

BUF: 40 (12, 15, 13)
NYI: 33 (15, 15, 3)


BUF: Carter Hutton - 30 saves
NYI: Robin Lehner - 39 saves

Power Plays:

BUF: 1 for 2 (50%)
NYI: 0 for 2 (0%)

Three Stars:

  1. Robin Lehner - NYI
  2. Brock Nelson - NYI
  3. Kyle Okposo - NYI

What's Next

The Sabres will return to home ice on Thursday when they welcome the Florida Panthers. The puck drops at seven o'clock on the flagship home of the Sabres Radio Network - WGR Sports Radio 550. Pre-game coverage with Mike Schopp and the Bulldog begins at 6 p.m. from (716) Food and Sport.

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