BUFFALO, NY - The New Jersey Devils kicked off the Prospects Challenge Friday evening at the HarborCenter. Playing their first of three games, New Jersey faced off against the host team, the Buffalo Sabres. Here are five observations from the matchup, a 4-3 Devils win that ended less than a minute into overtime thanks to defenseman Michael Kapla.
1. Ryan Kujawinkski was the standout of the first game, scoring all three Devils goals. In a complete fluke, Kujawinski's first two goals were scored at the 6:40 mark of the first and second periods. Kujawinski played left wing with Austin Cangelosi and Marian Studenic.
2. Will Butcher made his debut with the Devils. Wearing No. 8 and on the top defensive pairing with Steven Santini, Butcher was booed by the Sabres' fans in the crowd every time he touched the puck. Butcher was a college free agent who chose New Jersey over several other interested teams, including Buffalo, this offseason.
Video: NJD vs. BUF Postgame: Will Butcher
3. This year's first-overall selection in the NHL Draft, Nico Hischier, made his debut in a competitive game for the Devils. He centered the top line with John Quenneville and Nick Lappin on his wings.
4. There was no captain for the first game of the tournament, but a group of returning players are sharing the role of alternate captain. Steven Santini, Nick Lappin and John Quenneville are sporting A's on their jerseys. The three veterans of the group have leadership roles to play not only on the ice, but off it as well, and are three of five players at the Prospects Challenge who skated with New Jersey last season.
5. The penalty kill got its fair share of work (continuing the theme of his busy night, Kujawinski spent time in the box in the second period for holding). It had a successful night, though, holding off an energetic Sabres power play and killing 100 percent of its penalties.
Video: NJD vs. BUF Postgame: Kowalsky
The complete game video and highlights will be available to watch at NewJerseyDevils.com on Saturday. Stay tuned!