Robin Lehner has been one of the very few bright spots for the Chicago Blackhawks this season, and he was really good again on Sunday night in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Arizona Coyotes.
He stopped 44 shots, gave his team a chance to win on a night where they probably did not deserve the one point they ended up getting in the standings, and made an absolutely incredible save on a wide open Clayton Keller to keep the game tied mid-way through the third period.
For 65 minutes he was mostly outstanding, just as he has been all season. Sunday’s performance keeps his season save percentage at .929 — among the best marks in the league — as he continues to help mask the flaws of a bad defensive team and gives them a chance to win in almost every appearance he makes.
He has just had one major Achilles heel that showed itself again on Sunday — he can not stop anything in a shootout.
By allowing two goals on the only two shots shots he faced on Sunday to the Coyotes, he is now 0-3 in shootouts this season and has allowed six goals on seven shots.
This is not a new problem, either.
Dating back to the start of the 2015-16 season Lehner has won just one of the 14 shootouts he has participated with a .357 save percentage. Of the 75 goalies that have faced at least 10 shots in shootouts during that stretch, Lehner is one of just two goalies that has stopped fewer than 50 percent of the attempts against him. The only player with a worse mark is Michael Hutchinson, who has a .333 mark. Hutchinson has only faced 12 shots. Lehner has faced 42 shots.
The thing that has to be especially frustrating this season is that in the three shootouts he has lost he has been the only reason the Blackhawks were even in the games.
Back on Oct. 22 Lehner stopped 33 out of 34 shots against the Vegas Golden Knights in a game where he received one goal of offensive support in regulation. He then allowed two goals on three shots in the shootout.
It was a similar story on Nov. 23 when he stopped 40 out of 41 shots against Dallas and again only received one goal of support. He allowed two goals on two shots in the shootout.
Lehner was asked on Sunday if he has gone back and looked at things since his most recent shootout loss to see if there is anything he can improve on or do differently.
“I have. We are still working on it,” said Lehner. “We will see what happens. We will see what happens. It is what it is. I am positive about it — just not very good at it. Have to get better, keep working on it, keep finding another way.”
As for the Coyotes, their win on Sunday, combined with the Edmonton Oilers’ overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres, puts them in a tie for first place in the Pacific Division with 40 points. The Oilers currently have the tiebreaker due to more regulation wins.