Girgensons, Baptiste lead Sabres into championship

Sunday, 09.08.2013 / 6:47 PM | Mike G. Morreale  - Staff Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Nicholas Baptiste and Zemgus Girgensons each had a goal and two assists to lead the Buffalo Sabres' prospects to a 7-4 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday during the third day of round-robin action at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament.

The Sabres (3-0-0), the defending tournament champion, now advance to the championship against the host Detroit Red Wings on Monday at Center ICE Arena (7:30 p.m. ET).

Despite the loss, the Hurricanes brass received their first good look at 2013 first-round pick (No. 5) Elias Lindholm, who shook off some early rust before settling in nicely. Lindholm hasn't played in a competitive hockey game since last March. He sustained a shoulder injury in July during Carolina's rookie camp and had been limited to practices.

Carolina's top line of Lindholm centering Brock McGinn (2012, No. 47) and Sergey Tolchinsky (free agent signee) was very effective. McGinn scored two power-play goals and dished an assist, and Tolchinsky chipped in with a goal and one assist.

"The first hit felt pretty good, but then I get a little tired," Lindholm told "My linemates are good players so they made it pretty easy for me. On the first few power plays, I was confused. I was in front and in the corner, but after a while we started to get our positions and started to find each other, so it's OK."

Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford was pleased with Lindholm's performance.

"I liked his game a lot," Rutherford told "I wasn't expecting anything since he bruised his shoulder in the middle of our July development camp and hasn't been able to train like other guys. But you could see his puck skills, his vision and his game. I was pleased."

Buffalo opened a 3-0 advantage in the first period on goals by Johan Larsson (2010, No. 56), Jerome Gauthier-Leduc (2010, No. 68) and Baptiste (2013, No. 69). Girgensons, a 2012 first-round pick (No. 12), extended the lead to 4-0 at 4:03 of the second.

The Hurricanes then connected for three straight in a span of 5:36 when defenseman Trevor Carrick (2012, No. 115) scored at 6:35 and McGinn hit twice. Defenseman Ryan Murphy (2011, No. 12) assisted on two of the goals.

Eric Locke would stuff home a shot 18 seconds after McGinn's second goal to give the Sabres a 5-3 lead. The Sabres took a 6-4 lead 6:04 into the third when Justin Bailey (2013, No. 52) converted a feed from Colin Jacobs. Tolchinsky then scored his third goal of the tournament before Peter Trainor closed out the scoring for Buffalo with an empty-net goal with 1:29 remaining in regulation.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter: @mikemorrealeNHL

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