In his return to Buffalo, Robin Lehner was fantastic as the New York Islanders went on to win 3-1 over the Buffalo Sabres on New Year’s Eve.
Every year it seems, the New York Islanders play on the road on New Year’s Eve. It’s a tradition that I’ve grown accustomed to, and the Islanders certainly didn’t let their fans down to close out 2018.
The first period flew by, as there were no penalties or no goals. It was the period of phenomenal saves from Robin Lehner, who was making his return to Buffalo for the first time since they didn’t tender him a contract, and Carter Hutton.
Despite the Islanders having 15 shots to the Sabres 12, it felt like the Sabres had more of the momentum. The Isles definitely started the game slowly but ended up taking over in the second period.
Just 2:59 into the period, Nick Leddy scored his second of the year off the faceoff courtesy of Mathew Barzal and Leo Komarov.
The goal came after a dominant shift from the Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and Josh Ho-Sang line. Those three were by far the Islanders best line of the night creating the most scoring chances.
That would be the only goal of the period, but again there was a ton of shots on goal. Both teams had 15 shots in the period, and both Hutton and Lehner were forced to stand on their head at times in net.
Quickly into the third period, Brock Nelson scored a goal on a rare Carter Hutton mistake. Nelson took the puck into the zone off a Josh Ho-Sang pass, let a shot rip that went off of Hutton’s glove and trickled into the net giving the Islanders a two-goal lead.
At the 10:14 of the period Kyle Okposo got the Sabres on the board. After Mathew Barzal took a slashing call on youngster Casey Mittelstadt. It was Okposo’s first goal in 22 games, and Lehner’s first goal allowed in nearly 178 minutes of gameplay.
Ryan Pulock scored on the empty net goal from his defensive zone to cap this one off. It was actually rather impressive seeing him serve one up the boards that trickled into the empty net from nearly 190 feet away.
It was the Robin Lehner show tonight as he stopped 39 of 40 shots faced and all 35 even strength chances for the Sabres. The Isles win their seventh game out of the last eight and head into 2019 in a playoff spot.