Robin Lehner won his fifth straight decision when he stopped 39 of 40 shots and collected an assist against his former team Monday night as the visiting New York Islanders concluded their December surge with a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
Lehner, who signed with the Islanders in July after three seasons with the Sabres, carried a shutout deep into the third and has allowed just two goals on his last 144 shots faced over his last five appearances (four starts).
Nick Leddy scored in the second period and Brock Nelson scored in the third period before Ryan Pulock added an empty-netter off a feed from Lehner in the final minute of the game. The Islanders have won four straight and seven of eight (7-1-0).
Kyle Okposo scored for the Sabres, who have lost three straight (0-2-1) and five of six (1-4-1). Goalie Carter Hutton made 30 saves.
Following a scoreless first period, the Islanders went ahead 2:59 into the second, when Leddy’s shot from just inside the blue line sailed through a gaggle of players in front of the net and past Hutton’s glove.
The Islanders doubled the lead 1:45 into the third on an impressive individual effort by Nelson, who collected the puck from Joshua Ho-Sang around center ice, shuffled the puck as he descended upon Sabres center Sam Reinhart and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin before firing a shot between the two that went over the glove of a surprised Hutton, who looked to the back of the net as the puck hit the twine.
Okposo, who spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Islanders before signing with the Sabres in July 2016, cut the gap in half when he fired a shot from the top of the faceoff circle past the glove of Lehner, who was screened by Buffalo center Tage Thompson, for a power play goal with 9:46 left. The power play was generated when New York’s Mathew Barzal was whistled for slashing.