Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550/WBEN) - Hockey in Western New York made its return on Friday night with the opening of the 2023 Sabres Prospects Challenge at Harborcenter.
The Sabres opened their tournament on Friday with a 6-3 win on home ice over the Montreal Canadiens, thanks to contributions from a number of Buffalo's first-round talent on the roster.
The scoring started early in this game, as Montreal found the back of the net first. It was forward Xavier Simoneau finding a lane through traffic in front of Sabres goalie Scott Ratzlaff to give the Canadiens a 1-0 advantage just 1:41 in.
The Sabres responded less than three minutes later, as defenseman Mats Lindgren jumped up from the blue line, took a pass from forward Isak Rosen and fired a high pass over the glove of Canadiens goalie Jakub Dobes.
Buffalo was able to finish the opening 20 minutes of play with a majority of the chances, outshooting Montreal, 13-6.
The Canadiens regained their advantage in the second period shortly after killing off a Buffalo power play chance. Miguel Tourigny was sitting all alone to the left of Ratzlaff, and was able to tap in a rebound off the original shot from defenseman William Trudeau.
Once again, the Sabres responded a few minutes later after a miscue by the Canadiens in their own zone leads to a Buffalo goal.
After Montreal defenseman Logan Mailloux slowed up on a potential icing, resulting in the linesman waiving it off, the Sabres stayed with the puck, eventually leading to a turnover in front of the Canadiens net. The puck eventually found Rosen's stick, and he wired a shot past Dobes to tie the game at 2-2.
Less than three minutes later, the Sabres grabbed their first lead of the night with a goal from 2022 first-round pick Matthew Savoie. The forward was able to find a way to put the puck past Dobes from a weird angle after 2023 first-round pick Zach Benson flipped a pass towards the Montreal goal crease.
While Montreal held the advantage in shots on goal in the second period, 12-9, Buffalo still held the overall advantage, 22-18, through 40 minutes.
It didn't take long for the Canadiens to even the score once again, as just 36 seconds into the third period, forward Joshua Roy re-directed a point shot from defenseman Stanislav Demin through Ratzlaff and in.
Buffalo never blinked, though, as just 1:06 after the Canadiens tied the game, forward Tyson Kozak was able to slip in behind the Montreal defense and make a move to get Dobes down and out for the goal.
Then three-and-a-half minutes later, Savoie added his second goal of the evening with a beautiful individual effort. Savoie was able to use his speed to hit the open ice for a scoring chance, and despite being denied on his first chance, he stuck with it for a no-look goal.
Buffalo capped off their night of scoring with a late power play goal from forward Jiri Kulich, who wired a one-time shot past Dobes off a nice feed from Rosen.
BUF: 4:24 - Mats Lindgren (1) (Isak Rosen, Olivier Nadeau)
MTL: 1:41 - Xavier Simoneau (1) (Miguel Tourigny, Stanislav Demin)
BUF: 11:55 - Isak Rosen (1) (Nikita Novikov); 14:37 - Matt Savoie (1) (Zach Benson, Zach Metsa)
MTL: 7:48 - Miguel Tourigny (1) (William Trudeau, David Reinbacher)
BUF: 1:41 - Tyson Kozak (1) (Nikita Novikov, Norwin Panocha); 5:16 - Matthew Savoie (2) (Filip Cederqvist, Novikov); 18:18 - Jiri Kulich (1) PPG (Isak Rosen)
MTL: 0:36 - Joshua Roy (1) (Stanislav Demin, Owen Beck)
BUF: 19:35 - Zach Benson (Slashing - 2 min.)
MTL: 17:15 - John Parker-Jones (Cross-checking - 2 min.)
BUF: 8:56 - Viktor Neuchev (Tripping - 2 min.); 9:58 - Chris Jandric (Roughing - 2 min.); 17:28 - Ryan Johnson (Cross-checking - 2 min.)
MTL: 5:18 - William Trudeau (Holding - 2 min.); 9:58 - Xavier Simoneau (Roughing - 2 min.)
BUF: 2:40 - Ethan Miedema (Tripping - 2 min.)
MTL: 13:45 - Chris Jandric (Interference - 2 min.); 17:35 - Owen Beck (Slashing - 2 min.)
Losi and Gangi Three Stars of the Game:
1.) Matthew Savoie - BUF
2.) Isak Rosen - BUF
3.) Nikita Novikov - BUF
Game 2 for the Sabres in the 2023 Prospects Challenge will take place Saturday night at Harborcenter against the New Jersey Devils. Faceoff is set for 7 p.m. ET and can be heard on the radio home of the Sabres - WGR Sports Radio 550.