By: Brandon Caputo
The Buffalo Sabres hosted their 8th annual Prospects Challenge tournament in downtown Buffalo at the LECOM Harborcenter. In their first matchup of the tournament, they faced a Montreal Canadiens squad loaded with top prospect talent, seeing as the team is in the midst of a full rebuild and restocking their cupboards of high picks and young players.
Buffalo, who also assembled a formidable squad of top end draft picks throughout the last few years, lined up as follows going into their opening game of the tournament:
Line 1: Isak ROSEN, Jiri KULICH, Olivier NADEAU
Line 2: Zach BENSON, Matt SAVOIE, Filip CEDARQVIST
Line 3: Alexandr KISAKOV, Tyson KOZAK, Viktor NEUCHEV
Line 4: Ethan MIEDEMA, Graham SLAGGERT, Damien GIROUX
D1: Mats LINDGREN, Zach METSA
D2: Chris JANDRIC, Ryan JOHNSON
D3: Norwin PANOCHA, Nikita NOVIKOV
G1: Scott RATZLAFF
G2: Josh FLEMING
Quick start for Buffalo as Jiri Kulich cuts in and wrists one that is stopped but it was Montreal who would get on the board first just under two minutes in, as Simoneau gets one through a screen from the point past Ratzlaff.
Mats Lindgren would jump in on the rush and wrist one past the goaltender to even it up for the Sabres just under five minutes into the contest. The Sabres would get a powerplay opportunity late in the opening period but were not able to capitalize as the teams would go into the first intermission tied at one apiece.
After Buffalo were unable to capitalize with another man advantage, the Canadiens would take the lead near the midway point of the contest as Miguel Tourigny would bury the rebound off the pad of Retzlaff.
Buffalo would get on the board after the 12-minute mark of the middle period with only their third shot of the period, as Isak Rosen would bury in the blue paint top shelf to even the game up at two. A few minutes later the Sabres would score again as Zach Benson found his Wenatchee Wild (formerly Winnipeg Ice) teammate Matt Savoie who was able to maneuver the puck past Dobes to take a 3-2 lead late in the middle period.
A quick start to the final period as Roy would take a point shot that squeezed past Retzlaff to even the game up before Kozak would respond less than a minute later to give Buffalo the four to three lead. Buffalo would get on the board once again as Matt Savoie would pick up his own loose puck and bury it for his second goal of the night, a goal for the highlight reel assisted by Zach Benson.
There would be a delay with 13:26 remaining as a piece of glass broke behind the Montreal net that needed to be replaced. Montreal would empty their net with just under four minutes remaining in regulation. Buffalo would get a late powerplay as the Canadiens took a penalty to stop the empty net chance. The Sabres would capitalize as a great cross ice pass went to Jiri Kulich for a big one-timer that blew by the goaltender to extend the lead to 6-3. Scott Retzlaff held down the fort despite a few goals that he would like back in victory.
Buffalo would take the opening game by that 6-3 score. Sabres will play their second game against New Jersey tomorrow night at 7:00pm.