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game recap

Kyle Okposo scores twice in win for Sabres

Buffalo forward has two goals, Robin Lehner makes 37 saves in victory against Jets

by Scott Billeck / NHL.com Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- Kyle Okposo scored twice and Robin Lehner made 37 saves to help the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre on Sunday.

Lehner missed the past three games with a stomach illness, having last played on Oct. 20 in a 2-1 loss against the Vancouver Canucks.

"It felt good," Lehner said. "I started to lose my breath a little bit in the end, but that's to be expected after a week coming back after the flu."

Brian Gionta also scored for the Sabres (3-3-2). His second period goal ended up being the game winner.

Nikolaj Ehlers scored for Winnipeg (4-5-0).

"Obviously, their goalie was good but we had some good chances that we could have put in," Ehlers said. "It bounced off their sticks or whatever, but hopefully next game they go in."

Video: BUF@WPG: Okposo stays with puck to open the scoring

Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson allowed three goals on 15 shots before being pulled in favor of Connor Hellebuyck in the second period. Hellebuyck stopped all 13 shots he faced.

"I didn't like the last two (goals)," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "I mean he played so very well (against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday). I didn't pull him out of anger. The third one should never have happened. The shot should never have happened. I'm not hanging that one on him. But I know I've got (Hellebuyck) going in the next night and he goes in and gets some work."

The Jets were 0-for-6 on the power play.

Okposo's initial shot on the first goal was blocked by Jets defenseman Toby Enstrom but fell back on the stick of Okposo, who sent his second shot over Hutchinson's glove hand for a 1-0 lead at 10:51 of the third period.

"I was trying to shoot through him and it went off his shin pads and popped right back to me," Okposo said. "I tried to get it on net and got it over the glove."

Gionta scored to make it 2-0 at 12:49 of the first period. His initial shot was saved by Hutchinson, who was unable to get his glove on the puck, allowing Gionta to get his stick on it for his third of the season.

Video: BUF@WPG: Gionta follows his shot, pokes in rebound

Okposo scored his second of the game at 13:59 of the second period to give the Sabres a 3-0 lead.

Ehlers scored to make it 3-1 at 4:49 of the third period. Blake Wheeler's point shot went wide left of Lehner off the end boards and came out on his right side to Ehlers, who scored his second the season.

 

Goal of the game

Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly picked out Okposo from his own zone on the left side after the Jets were caught on a bad line change. Okposo, on his off-wing, scored on Hutchinson's far side for his second of the game.

Video: BUF@WPG: Okposo beats Hutchinson for the second time

 

Save of the game

With the Sabres leading 3-1 in the third, Jets forward Kyle Connor dropped a pass to Patrik Laine in the slot. Laine's low wrist shot was saved by Lehner's glove to keep it a two-goal game.

Video: BUF@WPG: Lehner robs Laine with glove save in 3rd

 

Highlight of the game

Lehner stopped a point-blank shot from Mathieu Perreault with his shoulder after a cross-ice pass from Laine. The save came with under 3:30 remaining with the Jets on the power play and the Sabres holding a 3-1 lead.

Video: BUF@WPG: Lehner denies Perreault from close range

 

Unsung moment of the game

Lehner made five saves in a span of 1:18 just after the midway point of the second period. The Jets dominated possession, changing their forward line three times in that span.

 

They said it

"We want to win every single game and I think that we all stepped up, even today. We played a good game, we played hard for the full 60. We used our speed and our skill to get pucks to the net. We weren't lucky in the first two periods and we had some great chances (to make it 3-2), so I think we just got to take all the good stuff from this game and keep going." -- Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers

Video: BUF@WPG: Ehlers plays a carom, slams one past Lehner

 

"That's a good team over there that's very fast. They are going to have their chances. But I think looking at yesterday and today's performance, we're playing smart and playing to what we are good at ... it helps a lot." -- Sabres goalie Robin Lehner on not panicking in the third period

 

Need to know

Jets defenseman Tyler Myers was scratched prior to the game because of a lower-body injury. Coach Paul Maurice said he is day-to-day. ... Sabres forward Nicholas Deslauriers missed the game due to an undisclosed injury sustained on Saturday against the Florida Panthers. ... Sabres forward Hudson Fasching left the game in the first period with a groin injury and did not return. Coach Dan Bylsma had no update on his status and said Buffalo likely will recall a forward from Rochester of the American Hockey League. 

 

What's next

Sabres: At the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; FS-N+, MSG-B, NHL.TV)

Jets: Home against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; TSN3, CSN-DC, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Lehner, Okposo's pair of goals lift Sabres over Jets

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