Robin Lehner got the start in goal and played half the game as the Islanders lost to the Sabres, 5-4, on Friday night in Oshawa, Ontario in their preseason finale, giving him five starts to Thomas Greiss’ three.
New coach Barry Trotz clearly doesn’t have a clear-cut No. 1 goalie quite yet. But the plan is to have one.
“Generally, in the past, I’ve had a No. 1,” said Trotz, who coached the Capitals to the Stanley Cup last season and also spent 15 seasons behind the Predators’ bench. “I haven’t had many 40-40 guys. I don’t know too many teams that have been successful 40-40. Ideally, you want to get to a No. 1 who’s in there and gives your team that same feel every night.”
Lehner stopped 11 shots and departed with the Isles trailing 3-2. Greiss then made five saves.
Lehner, 27, signed a one-year, $1.5-million deal with the Islanders after being the Sabres’ starter the past two seasons, going 14-26-9 with a 3.01 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage last season.
Greiss, 32, in the middle season of a three-year, $10-million deal, was 13-8-2 with a 3.82 GAA and an .892 save percentage last season but played 51 games the previous season, going 26-18-5 with a 2.69 GAA and a .913 save percentage. He also appeared in 11 playoff games in 2016 as the Islanders won a playoff series for the first time since 1993.
“Both have played pretty well,” Trotz said. “There’s not much separating both of them.”
The Islanders open the regular season on Thursday at Carolina and will play only two sets of back-to-back games in the season’s first seven weeks, meaning there will be an opportunity for one of the goalies to establish himself as the regular starter.
“I have a ways to go but I think I’m way further ahead than I was a few days ago,” Lehner said. “I’d say I’m about 75, 80 percent, but I have time left to get to 100.”
“I’m definitely getting there,” Greiss said. “As always, there’s things I want to work on to improve on, things here and there. It’s just a process.”
Notes & quotes: Ryan Pulock scored his team-high fifth goal of the preseason and Anders Lee scored twice to give him four. Mathew Barzal had two assists to finish with seven. Josh Bailey also scored and Nick Leddy added two assists . . .
Center Casey Cizikas exited for good in the second period after a hard check into the glass . . . The Isles went 5-3-0 in the preseason.