BUFFALO - Both the Bruins and Sabres entered Game 2 of the 2019 Prospects Challenge undefeated after earning wins the night before.
But Saturday night, despite multi-point games for Oskar Steen and Samuel Asselin, the host team managed to just edge out the Bruins, 4-3, to advance to 2-0 in the tournament.
"I thought our shifts early were long, which usually does mean that you're tired," said Providence Bruins head coach Jay Leach. "You're not thinking upbeat pace, that type of thing. So, I think we were a little gassed, then we found our legs a little bit. But you're right, I mean, it's a lot of emotional and also physical wear on a player. Certainly with coming in, practicing, coming here, flying here, pregame skate, playing, pregame skate, playing - it's a lot."
The Bruins still have one more game to go, as the Black & Gold will close out the three-game tournament Monday morning when they face off against the New Jersey Devils.
Steen scores two
A little less than 10 minutes into Saturday's second period, Steen hammered home a tic-tac-toe goal with help from Jakub Lauko and Dante Hannoun. The goal put the Bruins on the board for the first time, cancelling out Rasmus Asplund's goal for the Sabres earlier in the first period.
Around the same time in the third period, the sixth-round draft pick did it again, whipping a shot past Buffalo's Jonas Johansson while on the power play for the Bruins' second goal of the night.
"I think I played better today than yesterday," said Steen. "It's a bit different between the small rinks and the big rinks, so I have to get used to it and get better here."
The success is a welcome sign, as Steen is trying to use his experience from a breakout season last year in the Swedish Hockey League to grow his game for the upcoming season.
"It was a huge season for me last year," said Steen. "I had a really big breakout, so it was a key for my confidence and I feel much better now than two years ago when I was here. So, I feel much, much more confident now than then."
Video: Steen talks after 2-goal game
Two nights, two points for Lauko
In Friday's matchup with Pittsburgh, Lauko was the first Bruin to kick off the scoring en route to an eventual 4-3 win over the Penguins. The goal came less than a minute into the second period, when Lauko beat netminder Emil Larmi off a feed from Anders Bjork.
Saturday night, Lauko picked up his second point of the tournament in as many games after the third-round draft pick assisted with Steen's first goal of the night. The winger's impact wasn't lost on Leach, who noted Lauko's drive and speed from Friday's game.
"From what I remember of last year, I was really impressed with him," said Leach. "I haven't seen him play a ton, but I was really impressed with his wall play as a real young player last year. This year, it seems he's got some serious speed. My biggest thing with him is he's not afraid to get to the net. A couple of times last night, he took a guy wide. And there's this gray area for a lot of players where they take it kind of to the net and they'll find themselves on the backside of the net. Or, there'll be guys that just take it to the net and come across that crease. He did it twice.
"He has a willingness to get there with his speed and he wants to finish. He wants to be a difference-maker and he clearly was. Maturity-wise, he's maturing just fine. I thought he was probably one of our better forwards. He's a fun kid to watch."
Multi-point performance from Asselin
The B's third and final goal came at the hands of Asselin, who scored around five minutes after recording his first point of the night while assisting on Steen's second goal.
A roughing penalty to Buffalo's William Borgen left the Bruins with a man-advantage at 14:22 of the third period. In the ensuing power play, Steen lobbed a pass cross-ice to Hannoun near the boards, where the winger skated it into the slot. From there, Hannoun shot the puck toward the net, and Asselin finished it off for the final goal of the game.
While the goal marked Asselin's second point of the night, Steen's assist put the center's game total at three. Asselin was inked to an AHL contract with Providence earlier this year.
Video: Jay Leach speaks at Prospects Challenge