In day 2 of the Prospects Challenge held in Buffalo the Sabres held a morning practice after a big 6-1 win over the New Jersey Devils. The Devils followed up their first game with a morning skate Sunday and then another game Sunday evening. They squared off against the Boston Bruins in HarborCenter, one of the many high- profile events that are coming through Buffalo as part of the sports “renaissance” that is taking place. Upcoming is the CCM/USA hockey prospects game that will be taking place in the First Niagara Center on September 24th.
The Bruins come into this season with a trio of consecutive first round picks; defenseman Jakub Zboril was taken 13th overall, Jake DeBrusk was selected at the 14th pick, and Zachary Senyshyn wrapped up the trio at the 15th pick. It’s safe to say the Bruins have high expectations in the near future.
The first period of play in the game started with the Bruins bringing all kinds of physical play, most significantly with undrafted center Austin Czarnik laying a booming hit into undrafted Devils defenseman Jacob Sweeney. As the period went on the Devils managed to match the physicality, and took three penalties in doing so. At the 7:48 mark, Joseph Blandisi opened the scoring making a hard drive to the net, and forced the puck past Bruins goaltender Ken Appleby for the unassisted goal. Boston had several chances to tie it up, and outshot New Jersey 11-4 including multiple odd man rushes that came up empty. That allowed New Jersey to go to the locker room with a 1-0 lead.
New Jersey built on that lead early in the second period. Matt Lorito had a quick wrap around to sneak it by Daniel Vladar to double the Devils’ lead. Lorito got the assist from 2015 6th overall pick Pavel Zacha. The Bruins came right back, Noel Acciari was given a beautiful feed from Colton Hartgrove, leaving him a virtually empty net to put it home and make it a 2-1 game at the 3:44 mark. The Devils had more trouble getting the puck out of their own zone. This time Appleby tried to move the puck and misplayed it and a very pretty display of passing allowed Frank Vatrano a shot from point blank range that he buried, assists on the goal came from his line mates Czarnik and Justin Hickman. Boston owned all of the momentum, although they were outshot 16-7 in the second frame and with a scrum that resulted in a roughing penalty from Max Iafrate put a little more tension in the game.
Joseph Blandisi made another appearance in the box score in the 3rd period, just two minutes into the period for his second goal of the game. He got a nice feed down low from Max Novak and John Quenneville, who was the Devils’ first round selection in 2014. Connor Chatham made Hargrove aware of his presence by delivering a bone-crushing hit just beside the Boston bench that was by far the biggest hit of the night in a very physical game. The Bruins would not go down without a fight, as the three first round picks got their names called on the same goal. Zboril got a quality shot from the high slot after nice passes by Senyshyn, who got it from DeBrusk. That goal tied the game up at 4, and would be the final goal of regulation. After the final ten minutes ticked off the clock, a three on three overtime was in order to decide a winner. Just 12 seconds into the extra period, Bruins’ Vatrano got the puck form Czarnik right in front of the net and put it top shelf to end the game. That was Vatrano’s second goal of the game and Czarnik’s second assist to win it for Boston at a final score of 5-4.
The Bruins are back in action tomorrow against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center, with a 7 P.M. puck drop. Both teams are coming off of games of scoring at least five goals, so be prepared for a lot of offense, and as it seems the way that Makarov has been playing, don’t be surprised if he is the one that is between the pipes for the Blue and Gold.