After Saturday’s loss to the Bruins, the Sabres entered today’s game against the Penguins hoping to close the Prospects Challenge on a high note. This didn’t look likely in the early minutes of the game, as Buffalo’s poor execution led to turnovers during breakouts, allowing the Penguins to tally a couple of early shots.
However, the outlook of the game quickly turned around with fifteen minutes left to play in the first period as Andrew Oglevie tucked in a sloppy rebound from the point. It wasn’t the prettiest of goals, but it was enough to get the momentum going for Buffalo, who were out-shooting the Pens 8-2 by the halfway point of the period.
With about five minutes to go in the first, Sabres goalie Jonas Johansson made a solid save shortly before Asplund beautifully handled a pass to his feet, splitting the defense and tucking in a goal to give Buffalo the 2-0 lead.
The second period started with a bit more of back and forth action, including a Pittsburgh shot off the crossbar. Buffalo eventually forced a turnover at the point that lead to a break in which winger Judd Peterson hit a vocal Myles Powell with a great pass which was sniped in for a 3-0 lead.
Johansson made a few strong saves to close out his half-game of playing time, with Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen coming in for the remainder of the second period, which finished with the Sabres maintaining their 3-0 lead.
With the third period being the last of the Prospects Challenge, the Sabres made sure to go out with a bang. Shortly after the Sabres won the opening faceoff and dumped the puck into the Penguins zone, Nylander corralled the puck and sniped it home for a 4-0 lead. The Penguins followed this up with a pair of their own goals before the Sabres went on a full onslaught- scoring six goals, including a pair from Nicholas Welsh, in a 13.5 minute stretch.
Beyond the scoring prowess displayed by the Sabres, there were positives on the physical front as well. Defenseman Devante Stephens fought Cedric Lacroix, who had been a pest in front of the net. The two exchanged several decent swings each before Lacroix eventually gained the upper hand and took Devante to the ground.
Despite the loss in the fight, the Sabres finished the game (and the tournament) with a well earned victory, out-shooting the Penguins 44-20 on the way to a 10-2 win.
Training camp is up next, followed by a preseason opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets a week from today.
Final: Sabres 10 - Penguins 2
Shots on Goal: Sabres 44 | Penguins 20
Sabres Goals: Alex Nylander (2) Nicholas Welsh (2) Rasmus Asplund (1) Myles Powell (1) Cole Coskey (1) Andrew Oglevie (1) Arvin Atwal (1) Kevin Hancock (1)
Penguins Goals: Adam Johnson (1) Calen Addison (1)
Stars of the Game
1. Rasmus Asplund (1 G, 3 A, 4 PTS)
2. Alexander Nylander (2G, 2A, 4 PTS)
3. Jonas Johansson (13 saves on 13 shots)