Lehner stopped 35 shots for his ninth career shutout, leading the Islanders to a 4-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Monday.
“It was a really good game, a fun game to play,” he said. “I was a little bit nervous at the beginning, to be honest. Then we got a couple of easy ones right from the start to kind of get us settled down a little bit.”
Lehner, who signed with the Islanders in July, played for the first time since last March 29 for Buffalo. He left that game against Detroit because of a panic attack and was subsequently treated for alcohol and drug addiction and also diagnosed with bipolar disorder, ADHD and PTSD.
“I try to just move forward here, but obviously a little bit special,” said Lehner, who was 14-26-9 with three shutouts and a 3.01 goals-against average for the Sabres last season. “I felt real good back in the game again, doing what I love, perfectly healthy. Feel better to have it done, and just start a new chapter with a new team in a new city.”
Anders Lee, Scott Mayfield, Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas scored to help New York get new coach Barry Trotz his first win at home. The Islanders, who opened the season with an overtime win at Carolina last Thursday, then lost their home opener to Nashville two nights later.
With New York leading 3-0, Lehner denied Tomas Hertl on the doorstep with 1:40 left to preserve the shutout and get his first win against the Sharks after coming in 0-4 with a 3.33 GAA in four games against them.
“I thought he was solid,” Trotz said of Lehner. “I thought our team was solid. Talk about a team win, you had everybody in the right place. You had skill guys score on the power play, You had your penalty-killers and your guys defending with commitment at the end and then you had Robn making good saves.
Cizikas added a short-handed empty-netter with 56 seconds left to cap the scoring.
Martin Jones finished with 26 saves for San Jose, which has lost two of its first three games.
“They played a desperate game,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “They blocked shots. They were heavy. … And you have to give their goalie credit. He made big saves at the right time.”
The Islanders got on the scoreboard late in a second period in which they outshot the Sharks 12-8. San Jose came up empty on two power plays before New York broke through on its man advantage as Lee knocked in the rebound of Josh Bailey’s shot from the right circle for his second at 14:34. It gave Lee a power-play goal for the second straight game, and New York its third in three.
San Jose went 0 for 4 on the power play to fall to 0 for 10 on the season. New York has not allowed a power-play goal on its opponents’ eight chances this season.
“Our PK, I think we were in trouble quite a bit with too many penalties,” Lee said, “but all the boys sacrificed themselves, made some great plays and credit really is to Robin. He played outstanding.”
Mayfield, making his season debut after being a healthy scratch the first two games, made it 2-0 at 5:16 of the third as he deflected a wrist shot by Cizikas.
Martin, back in New York this season after spending two years in Toronto, got his first goal since last December with just under seven minutes left.
“All four lines playing smart, playing hard and having a little bite to our game,” he said. “Everybody pulled the rope forward tonight and it was a big win for our club.”
Lehner had two nice stops on San Jose’s power play in the first period, denying Joe Pavelski’s tip try and making a glove save on Logan Couture.
NOTES: DeBoer said the swelling in C Joe Thornton’s right knee is due to an infection. Thornton, who had surgery on the knee, was placed on injured reserve during the weekend and did not accompany the team on its four-game swing to the East. There is no timetable for his return. … San Jose RW Timo Meier celebrated his 22nd birthday. … The teams conclude their two-game season series Oct. 20 at San Jose. … Lee got his eighth goal and 10th point in nine games against the Sharks. … Martin got his first goal and point in his 13th game against San Jose.
Sharks: At Philadelphia on Tuesday night in middle game of five-game trip.
Islanders: At Nashville on Saturday night in opener of a four-game trip.