Lehner, Sabres post second straight shutout


The Buffalo Sabres (14-26-9) remained red hot in Western Canada, defeating the Vancouver Canucks (19-24-6) by a score of 4-0 on Thursday night. An early goal by Sam Reinhart and tallies by Nick Baptiste, Kyle Okposo, and Johan Larsson saw the visitors sweep their swing through Canada’s left coast.

The three-game winning streak is the longest such streak for Buffalo this season and marks four wins out of the last six for the team. It is also the first time since 1998 that Buffalo has swept their trek through Western Canada.

Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner was sharp in the victory. The Swede notched his 11th win and 3rd shutout of the year, making 30 saves to get his second straight clean sheet. Including Chad Johnson’s performance on Monday night in Calgary, the Sabres did not surrender an even strength goal on the road trip.

Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom made 22 saves on 25 Buffalo shots.

Reinhart opened the scoring 4:27 into the first period as Victor Antipin pinched down the boards and fed a pass to Scott Wilson, who directed a shot toward Markstrom. Reinhart swooped in, picked up the rebound, and scooped a deft backhand into the net to give his team the lead in his hometown.

The West Vancouver native has been one of several players who have found their scoring touch of late, notching seven points (three goals, four assists) in his last five games.

Reinhart’s opening goal provoked a response from the hosts, as the Canucks put together a shift where they fired five shots on Lehner, but the man in the mask stood his ground. Lehner looked miles better than the goaltender who was pulled from the goal on home ice last Saturday afternoon.

The Canucks also had a pushback to start the middle period, as they had that frame’s first six shots. However, it was the Sabres who wound up drawing blood again.

As the Sabres broke out of their zone, Baptiste turned on the jets to get through a gap in the Vancouver defense. Benoit Pouliot found the speedy forward with a nice through pass, and the young forward through a quick deke on Markstrom to double his side’s advantage. It was Baptiste’s first goal of the season and fourth of his career. Vancouver was also the site of his first career NHL goal.

“You can just go down the line of guys who have been playing great these last couple games. If we do that consistently and bring that effort and bring that tenacity to work hard, we’re going to be successful.” – Baptiste

The hosts once again had no answers and both teams would head to the locker rooms with the Sabres up 2-0.

The third period was largely the Sabres parking the bus, although Evander Kane rang a shot off the goal post in the opening minute. The Canucks pushed, but the Sabres were able to push back and keep the home team off of the board.

Shortly after killing off a penalty, Ryan O’Reilly was tripped and the Sabres went on a late power play. Despite not generating a shot and going 0/2 to that point, Okposo was able to clean up the garbage from a Marco Scandella point shot to all but shore up his team’s third straight victory.

Larsson added a shorthanded empty net goal in the final minute to send Buffalo into the All-Star break with a 4-0 victory over the Canucks.

After Jack Eichel returns from his first career All-Star appearance, the Sabres will look to keep up their strong play and, if you can believe it, their fourth straight win next Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils.




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