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Alexander Nylander impresses at Sabres scrimmage

First-round pick scores two penalty shot-goals at development camp

by Joe Yerdon / Correspondent

BUFFALO -- Alexander Nylander pulled out his bag of tricks for his first Blue and Gold scrimmage at Buffalo Sabres development camp Saturday.

Nylander, the No. 8 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, scored two penalty-shot goals, but his Team Gold lost to Team Blue 5-3. He had another in the postgame shootout and is 6-for-6 on penalty shots during camp.

"I think I've been pretty good in shootouts since I've always been in competition in practices with my buddies or with my brother playing two-puck," Nylander said. "I don't know, I think I got a little lucky and it was just fun that I got all three in."

Nylander, whose brother William Nylander plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs, deked to the forehand and shot the puck past goalie Antoine Samuel on his backhand on each of his goals. If the moves looked familiar, it's because Alexander learned them from watching his father, NHL player Michael Nylander.

"When he went in the shootout, he loved going forehand-backhand, and it was like his favorite move and it usually worked," Alexander said of Michael. "So I got it from him and, like I said, it's actually a really good move."

Video: Highlights from the Blue & Gold Scrimmage

Nylander went to the forehand in the shootout to beat Samuel.

"I sort of came in and I got two backhands on him, so I thought I would change it up this time and sort of fake I was going to do backhand again and tried it and just went forehand from there," Nylander said.

Nylander's moves and puck-handling caught the attention of the crowd at HarborCenter but also of the coaches who worked with him during camp.

"Obviously he's got some sweet moves and some sweet hands, and that's when you certainly notice them, is when he got to go on penalty shots," Rochester Americans coach Dan Lambert said. "That's the type of player he is. He's skilled, he sees the ice and can make plays."

Video: NYLANDER: Blue & Gold Scrimmage

Nylander showed off those skills in open ice playing with left wing Victor Olofsson, the Sabres' seventh-round pick (No. 181) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

"We were pairing up a little bit in the practice, too, and sort of found chemistry directly from there with the 2-on-1s, 3-on-2s, and sort of carried on in this game," Nylander said. "Fortunately we were really close to scoring a goal, but if we play again with each other we'll probably get a couple."

The scrimmage is the closest thing they players will have all week to playing a real game. That means defending well and being smart in the defensive end is as important as generating offense.

"I think I'm both good offensively and defensively aware of what's going on," Nylander said. "I got some pucks [when] I saw the [defense] was going down and right on my blade and shot a pass back to the forward to go on offense. I try to work on all areas of my game both defensively and offensively."

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