It started like so many home games from the past few years. The Sabres started slow, mishandled the puck and looked overmatched.
Then they did one thing last season's Buffalo squad did well: They came back. The Sabres erased two deficits and took a third-period lead in the opening game of their Prospects Challenge.
It wasn't enough to send fans in the packed HarborCenter home happy. New Jersey tied the game with 3:21 to play, then scored on a breakaway just 50 seconds into overtime for a 4-3 victory. Defenseman Michael Kapla buried the winner.
Fan favorite: The crowd celebrated the Sabres' first-period goal with a rousing "Puuuuuuuuuu!" Center Cliff Pu got open in the slot and buried a pass from Vasily Glotov with 3:49 left in the period, tying the game at 1-1.
New Jersey opened the scoring when Austin Cangelosi took advantage of a free pass through the slot and dished to Ryan Kujawinski for an easy tap-in. The Devils outshot the Sabres, 12-5, in the first.
Keeping it tied: After Kujawinski scored his second of the night, burying a rebound 6:40 into the second, the Sabres came on strong. They outshot the Devils in the period, 14-7, and tied the game with 5:45 left. C.J. Smith pushed the puck to the front, where free-agent invite Colin Blackwell connected.
Blackwell, a center, spent last season with San Jose's affiliate in the American Hockey League. A seventh-round pick by the Sharks in 2011, Blackwell played at Harvard.
Double the pleasure: Blackwell gave the Sabres a 3-2 lead with 13:12 to go, speeding to the left faceoff dot and beating New Jersey goaltender Evan Cormier.
The Trick: Kujawinski buried his third goal with 3:21 to play, and it was just as easy as his first to bring the Devils into a 3-3 tie. He had a gaping net after taking a pass from defenseman Will Butcher.
Predictable response: Any perceived slight toward the Sabres puts the offender in fans' crosshairs, so it was no surprise Devils defenseman Will Butcher got booed every time he touched the puck. An unrestricted free agent this summer, he chose New Jersey after narrowing his list to Buffalo, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Net change: The Sabres planned to alternate goaltenders through their first two games. Johansson, a third-round pick in 2014, got the scheduled start in the opener. Jake McGrath, an undrafted prospect from Sudbury of the Ontario Hockey League, will face Boston on Saturday. The starter for Monday's finale is to be determined.
Johansson made 26 saves in regulation as the Devils outshot the Sabres, 29-28.
Give me an "A": Buffalo's "veteran" trio of Justin Bailey, Nick Baptiste and Hudson Fasching served as alternate captains. There was no captain.
Overtime winner: Boston and Pittsburgh needed extra time to determine the opening game Friday after Bruins forward Jess Gabrielle scored the overtime to deliver a 4-3 victory. The Penguins opened a 2-0 lead and entered the third period with a 2-1 advantage.
Next: The Sabres will host the Bruins at 7 p.m. Saturday in HarborCenter. Pittsburgh and New Jersey will face off at 3 p.m. Tickets for each game are $10.
Games involving Buffalo are streamed live on Sabres.com with audio from Sabres broadcaster Brian Duff and Paul Hamilton of WGR-AM 550. The radio station also carries the contests.