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Pu, Blackwell find the net, but Sabres fall in OT to Devils

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While most of the crowd came to the HarborCenter to see the Sabres’ top prospects, it was a camp invite that shined the most.

Colin Blackwell, who spent last season with the San Jose Barracuda, scored twice for the Sabres, but it wasn’t enough. Buffalo fell 4-3 to the New Jersey Devils in overtime despite holding a lead with just over three minutes remaining in regulation.

Michael Kapla scored in the extra frame, taking advantage of an aggressive offensive push by the Sabres.

New Jersey got on the board early in the game, as Ryan Kujawinski scored his first of three on the night six and a half minutes in. Cliff Pu saved the Sabres from a forgettable first period, firing home a shot from close range off of an outstanding pass from the left corner by Vasily Glotov.

The rest of the period was marred with consistent Devils possession and communication mistakes by the Sabres. The most noticeable gaff came from one of the Sabres’ best, Alex Nylander, who ran into his own defenseman right next to the Buffalo net. It set up 2017 first-overall pick Nico Hischier right on the doorstep, but Sabres goalie Jonas Johansson bailed Nylander out.

The Sabres looked far more in sync in the second, despite giving up the first goal of the period. After getting outshot 14-5 in the first, the Sabres held a 18-9 advantage in the second. Blackwell scored his first of the night on the left side of the net, taking advantage of a shot making it through traffic in front.

He scored his second to give the Sabres their first lead of the game early in the third, firing a wrister that beat Devils goalie Evan Cormier high.

However, crisp passing by New Jersey led to Kujawinski’s third goal, barring the Sabres from early points at the Prospects Challenge. Luckily, the team won’t have much time to dwell on the loss. Buffalo returns to the ice tomorrow at 7 p.m. to face Boston.

The Sabres looked far more in sync in the second, despite giving up the first goal of the period.

Three Questions

1. Will New Jersey take advantage of the Sabres’ weak point, their defense?

The Devils put on pressure on the Sabres’ defense throughout the game, with the Sabres having the most trouble in transition and with long scrums around the net. The tying goal at the end of the third in particular was a bit too easy.

2. Will Nico Hischier have an impact?

This year’s first-overall pick wasn’t dominant in his professional debut. He was held off the scoreboard and only got two shots on goal.

3. How will Will Butcher be received by the Buffalo crowd?

While Cliff Pu’s goal caused “Puuuuuuus” from the audience, when Butcher touched the puck he got the good old fashion boos. It was the loudest in the first ten minutes of the game, but persisted among the most committed fans throughout the game.