Washington, D.C. (WGR 550) – The Buffalo Sabres came from behind on Sunday to win their first preseason game of the season, 4-3, in a shootout over the Washington Capitals.
2023 first-round pick Zach Benson scored in his first game in a Sabres uniform, while Brandon Biro's shootout goal in Round 3 gave Buffalo the victory.
Meanwhile, JJ Peterka also scored in the shootout after Washington opened Round 1 with a goal. The 2020 second-round pick also scored in the second period, banking a shot off the back off Capitals goaltender Clay Stevenson and in.
"I tried to fake him out at the start, but he got his pad on it. [Then] I was like, 'Yup, then I’ve got to hit you on the back,'" said Peterka with a laugh following Sunday's win.
This was a sloppy game to start, as there were four penalties called in the first 6:35 of the game. The passing by both teams was off, and the decisions were worse.
To be fair, it’s only the fourth day of training camp, and Peterka says that’s to be expected.
"I think in the first game, you’ve got to get your timing back," he said. "I tried to figure things out, but there were a lot of penalties. As the game went on, everybody elevated their game a little bit and it went better and better."
The second-year winger has an opportunity for a breakout 2023-24 season in Buffalo after netting 12 goals in his rookie season.
After the season was over, Peterka went to the IIHF World Championship to play for Team Germany. He ended up scoring six goals and six assists for 12 points in 10 games. That earned him Best Forward honors for the tournament, and, more importantly, gave him all sorts of confidence.
"It was a great way to finish my last season, and it’s nice to be on the international stage and have good numbers there as well," Peterka said. "But it’s a new season now, and I'll try to get ready."
Buffalo has five preseason games this week, and different players will be getting ready in different ways.
"I think just the reps," Peterka said. "I went to Buffalo and started in September just to skate with the guys to get more speed in my game. From now on, it’s just getting game reps and practice reps, and I’m feeling better."
Benson said even though it was a preseason game, he was nervous playing in his first game with the Sabres. I can tell you he didn’t look nervous, and is playing so well, he is going to push to make this team from Day 1.