By Erica Whyte
|CHRIS TAYLOR POST-GAME|
|NICK BAPTISTE POST-GAME|
|BRENDAN GUHLE POST-GAME|
|CLIFF PU POST-GAME|
The Boston Bruins were chasing the lead of the Buffalo Sabres on the second night of the Prospects Challenge at the HarborCenter in Buffalo on Saturday, but following a four-goal third-period, the Sabres soon ran away for a convincing 7-4 win.
Buffalo’s offensive contributions were thanks to some familiar Amerks faces with Hudson Fasching, Justin Bailey, Brendan Guhle, Vaclav Karabacek and Nick Baptiste, while newcomer C.J. Smith tallied a three point night. Ryan Fitzgerald, Sean Kuraly and Justin Hickman each scored goals for the Bruins.
Camp invitee Jake McGrath earned his first start in net for the Sabres, stopping 35 of the 39 shots he faced.
The scoring opened halfway through the first period. On a power-play, Guhle took a shot at the point which was deflected. Fasching cleaned it up, firing the puck into the Bruins net before Hickman even things up for the Bruins.
Two minutes into the second period, Guhle reclaimed the lead for the Sabres, passing the puck to Smith, who in turn returned it to Guhle for the quick tap-in. Just three minutes later, McGrath got tangled up in front of the net, giving Kuraly an open lane to slide the puck through.
After closing the middle stanza tied 3-3, Buffalo soon took control of the game, adding four more goals in a physical third period. Baptiste netted his first of the tournament just hree minutes in, giving the Sabres the lead yet again. Tensions came to a boiling point, and the on-ice physicality escalated, resulting in another power-play opportunity for the Sabres, who would capitalixe on the man-advantage. Baptiste assisted Smith’s second of the night followed closely by Karabacek’s first goal.
With a minute and a half remaining, the Bruins were able to sneak in a goal with their goalie on the bench for the extra attacker. But that, too, was followed 30 seconds later by Fasching’s second goal of the night – an empty-netter to seal the win.
"It was fun to play, and I bet you it was fun to watch, too,” said Baptiste. We were going hard, and its impressive to see this time of the summer for us to pull out a third period like that, and to be composed.”
Amerks head coach Chris Taylor echoed Baptiste’s thoughts, saying how impressed he was by how composed the Sabres remained throughout the 60 minutes. Taylor also spoke about the leaders on this young Sabres squad, and about how impressed he is with the growth of both Baptiste and Bailey.
“The maturity level on both of them… and then giving them assistant captain duties, leading the guys in the dressing room, and going out there and playing hard is great.” Taylor said of the duo. "They’re trying to show what they’ve got, and they’re competing internally. They’re competing back and forth against each other, and they’re competing against the other team. We like that.”
Nylander out for remainder of Prospects Challenge
Alex Nylander, scratched due to a lower-body injury, will miss the remainder of the Prospects Challenge for precautionary reasons. The team announced the injury prior to puck drop.
"He just didn't feel right this morning," Taylor said. "It's precautionary, we're just going to hold him out for the rest of the tournament. We want to make sure he'll be back for training camp. But he'll get evaluated on Monday and Tuesday."
Tournament wraps up on Monday
The Sabres will conclude their Prospect Challenge on Monday as they face the Pittsburgh Penguins, a squad that Coach Taylor, Sabres GM Jason Botterill and Amerks GM Randy Sexton are all very familiar with. Puck drop is at HarborCenter at 7:00 p.m.