The Sabres started Monday night thinking about fisticuffs. At the end, they showed some fight.
After falling in 3-0 and 4-1 holes, Buffalo gave the fans who showed up for its prospect tournament a rush of adrenaline. The Sabres scored twice in the closing 2:34 to pull within a goal, but Boston withstood the challenge for a 4-3 victory in HarborCenter.
The Sabres, who also lost to New Jersey, finished with an 0-2 record. The Bruins won the round-robin tourney by going 2-0.
The Sabres played a physical game against the Bruins, but it resulted in trips to the penalty box and power-play goals for the Bruins. The combination of short-handed play and poor puck control contributed to a lack of scoring chances through two periods.
Buffalo went all-out in the offensive zone during the third, and it paid off with a rally.
Nylander breaks through: Alexander Nylander, the Sabres’ first-round pick, finally provided a highlight with 2:34 to play. The first-round pick zipped through the Boston zone and buried a shot off the crossbar to make it 4-2. He skated toward the glass and let out a visible sigh of relief in celebration.
Until then, the 18-year-old had a tournament to forget. He had become frustrated, best illustrated by repeatedly shaking his head after failing to keep the puck in the zone during a second-period power play.
Guhle finds the net: Buffalo defenseman Brendan Guhle, who had also struggled for much of the two games, scored from inside the faceoff circle with 1:45 remaining to make it 4-3.
Around the horn: The Bruins took a 3-0 lead in the first period by scoring three ways – even strength, short-handed and on the power play. Boston opened the scoring when Peter Cehlarik stole the puck at the blue line and beat goaltender Jason Kasdorf on a breakaway with 4:14 gone. Jake DeBrusk’s tap-in during a five-on-three gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead with 9:45 left.
Lewiston connection: Sean Kuraly’s short-handed goal with 3:13 left in the first put the Bruins up, 3-0. The 23-year-old kept the puck on a two-on-one and ripped a shot home off the crossbar. Kuraly’s birthplace is listed as Lewiston, but he grew up in Ohio and played for Miami (Ohio) University.
Rough stuff: The teams combined for 28 penalty minutes in the first period, include a fight after the buzzer between Buffalo’s Devante Stephens and Boston’s Jesse Gabrielle. There were also roughing, boarding, elbowing and checking-to-the-head penalties. The Bruins finished the night 2 for 8 on the power play, while the Sabres were 0 for 6.
Big boys answer: Two of the Sabres who are supposed to look good – wingers Justin Bailey and Nicholas Baptiste – certainly did when they got Buffalo on the scoreboard. Baptiste sent a pass across the crease to Bailey for a tap-in with 90 seconds gone in the second period.
Bailey nearly had a second goal with 11:30 left, stealing the puck in the Bruins’ zone and dancing around defenders to get an open look. Goalie Dan Vladar made the stop.
Hometown cheering section: East Aurora native Austin Osmanski earned the secondary assist on Bailey’s goal. Loud applause from an entire corner section accompanied the announcement of Osmanski’s helper.
Pad save and a beauty: Kasdorf temporarily kept the score at 3-1 with a tremendous save with six minutes gone in the second. DeBrusk, the 14th overall draft pick in 2015, ripped a one-timer from point-blank range, but Kasdorf stuck out his left leg to get his pad on the shot.
Just tap it in: The Sabres’ penalty killers, who went 4 for 4 in the opener, gave up their second goal of the night with 7:33 left in the second. Gabrielle got alone at the side of the net for a tap-in.
Pegula keeps tabs: Once again, Buffalo owner Terry Pegula took in the prospects challenge next to General Manager Tim Murray in the Sabres’ box. Pegula attended Saturday’s opener, sat in on Sunday’s practice and watched Monday’s morning skate.
Neely keeps tabs: Bruins President Cam Neely made the trip to Buffalo to watch Boston’s prospects in the tournament. He was recognized often by fans in attendance.
Lettermen: The Sabres stuck with three alternates and no captain. This time, forwards Bailey, Baptiste and William Carrier wore the A’s.
Next: Most of the prospects will stay in town and join Buffalo’s veterans for the start of NHL training camp Thursday. The first on-ice session will be Friday.