The Sabres’ opening scrimmage of training camp featured the top forwards on the roster, with a team led by Evander Kane, Ryan O’Reilly and Tyler Ennis (Group A) facing Matt Moulson, Jack Eichel and Zemgus Girgensons (Group B). O’Reilly’s team won, 4-3, in a shootout.
Here are some notes from Friday’s scrimmage, played with about 1,000 fans in the stands:
*O’Reilly drew the biggest cheer of the game. His first of two goals was a beauty. The center slowly backed into the right circle with the puck, then unleashed a bomb into the far, top corner that rang into the net off the iron.
*O’Reilly’s second goal came at the top of the crease, as he roofed a shot over sliding goaltender C.J. Motte. O’Reilly also beat Motte in the shootout.
*Patrick Kaleta, who is listed as the 10th of 10 forwards for Group B, scored twice. His second goal came on a penalty shot after he was taken down hard by Jake McCabe. Kaleta went top corner to beat goalie Keegan Asmundson.
*Robin Lehner and Chad Johnson, the Sabres’ top two goalies, started the game. Lehner gave up two goals in 20 minutes while Johnson gave up one.
*O’Reilly and Brian Gionta praised the game-breaking speed of Kane on Thursday, but what stood out Friday was his size. The left winger looked bulkier than his listed measurements of 6-foot-2, 198 pounds.
*Kane showed his anticipation by swiping a cross-ice pass from Devante Stephens at the blue line and going three-quarters of the ice on a breakaway. Motte made the stop.
*Josh Chapman, who drew fans with his gritty play during the Sabres’ prospect camps, is already annoying the NHL players. Chapman hounded puck-carrier Johan Larsson and ultimately forced the forward out of the zone. Larsson responded by whacking Chapman in the back of the legs with his stick.
*Asmundson stopped Eichel on two breakaways. The goalie stopped Eichel’s five-hole attempt during the scrimmage and made a glove save to secure Group A’s win in the shootout.
*Ennis’ shootout goal was reminiscent of Thomas Vanek. The winger slowly skated near the net then wound up and ripped a slap shot high.