OTTAWA – Robin Lehner sipped on a coffee as he spoke outside the visiting dressing room at Canadian Tire Centre, but he certainly didn't need any help getting energized. With the Buffalo Sabres on a three-game losing streak, there's a built-in motivation for him to help right the ship against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night.
Playing in his former building for the first time simply adds a layer of anticipation that makes it a little bit different from an ordinary game.
"Yeah right now yes, it will be," Lehner said. "But I'll try to manipulate myself a little bit before I get on the ice and try to approach it as a normal game. It will probably be a special feeling but it's been a while now, I'm starting to get over it."
Lehner admitted it was strange when he walked into the building for the first time on Tuesday. He spent parts of five seasons in Ottawa after the Senators drafted him in the second round in 2009, and over that time he developed relationships in the organization that remain strong today.
The Senators know him so well, he said, that it may make for an interesting chess match come game time.
"It actually might be a little tougher because they know I know and I know they know," he said. "Where they usually go they might not go so it's going to be a little bit of mind games, especially with some of my close friends over there."
In three games since returning from the high ankle sprain he sustained against the Senators in Buffalo on Oct. 8, Lehner's allowed just seven goals on 109 shots (.936). He's wowed with diving stops, impressed his coaches and, most importantly, felt healthy in doing so.
But he's still searching for that elusive first win as a Sabre.
"The three games Robin's played, I think especially the game in Colorado and the home game against Detroit, he played really big, really strong but I think what I liked the best was the control in the net that he demonstrated," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "Especially in the Detroit game, he had 18 grade-A scoring chances that he was strong on, 44 shots on net. He was the best player on the ice for us that night."
Aside from Lehner, Bylsma said that the Sabres lineup will remain the same as in their game against the Rangers on Monday. Josh Gorges skated on Tuesday morning but will miss his third game in a row with an upper-body injury.
Coverage on Tuesday begins at 7 p.m. with Tops Sabres Gamenight on MSG-B and Bell TV. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.
9 Evander Kane - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 88 Jamie McGinn
82 Marcus Foligno - 22 Johan Larsson - 12 Brian Gionta
26 Matt Moulson - 15 Jack Eichel - 28 Zemgus Girgensons
19 Cal O'Reilly - 59 Tim Schaller - 17 David Legwand
47 Zach Bogosian - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
29 Jake McCabe - 46 Cody Franson
6 Mike Weber - 3 Mark Pysyk
40 Robin Lehner
31 Chad Johnson