Sabres goalie Robin Lehner sported a different number to honor Craig Lehner early Friday. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres goalie Robin Lehner to honor fallen Buffalo K-9 Officer on jersey

BUFFALO – The community’s emotional response to Craig Lehner’s death has moved Sabres goalie Robin Lehner, who will honor the Buffalo K-9 Officer tonight by wearing his name and radio number on a special Military Appreciation Night jersey.

The camouflage warm-up jersey has 43 and “C. Lehner” on the back. Craig Lehner, who died in a dive training exercise last month in the Niagara River, also served in the Army National Guard. The two have no relation.

“It’s been a huge presence here,” Robin Lehner said this morning inside KeyBank Center. “You really felt the loss in Buffalo the last week. I have a few friends that told me a lot about him that served with. There’s kind of been a lot of fans on social media, too, send me some messages.

“It just feels right, what they do for the country, him being in the Army and being a police officer. (It’s) not just him, it’s for everyone he represents, and especially in the City of Buffalo, it’s a big presence, they take a lot of pride in it.”

He added: “Obviously, he touched a lot of people in the game.”

Lehner tried to use the radio number on his game jersey, although with the regular blue sweater being worn, it was too difficult to switch.

Craig Lehner would’ve turned 35 years old today.

In other news, Robin Lehner will start tonight against the Florida Panthers, his 12th appearance this season.

The Sabres will make one lineup change, inserting defenseman Nathan Beaulieu, who has missed the last seven games with an upper-body injury.

“I’m glad to have him back,” Sabres coach Phil Housley said.

Meanwhile, Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges (lower body) is also close to returning. But fresh off Tuesday’s win 3-1 against the Washington Capitals, perhaps the Sabres’ best defensive effort this season, Housley doesn’t want to tinker too much.

“We played a pretty good game last game with the D-corps that we had,” he said. “We wanted to keep some of the consistency we had.”

Lehner said: “We have to replicate, we have to come out and do the same things. Win or lose today, I just want to see us play the same way.”

Housley said Gorges could return for Saturday’s road tilt against the Montreal Canadiens.

Sabres winger Justin Bailey (lower body) and defenseman Matt Tennyson (ankle) are also out tonight.

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