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BRUINS BEST DEVILS AT PROSPECTS CHALLENGE

by Jourdon LaBarber / Buffalo Sabres

It took two separate comebacks for the Bruins prospects to reach overtime in their eventual win over the Devils on Sunday at HARBORCENTER, but it didn’t take them long to secure the victory once they got there.

Boston fought for the puck following the opening faceoff of a 3-on-3, five minute extra period and set up beautifully for undrafted University of Massachusetts alum Frank Vatrano to score the game-winning goal in front of the net just 13 seconds in.

Vatrano’s second goal of the game gave Boston a 4-3 victory in Game 2 of the inaugural Prospects Challenge, presented by Tops, Post Foods and Honey Bunches of Oats.

In a game where Boston failed to capitalize on all of its four power play opportunities, including a failed 5-on-3 advantage in the first period, the Bruins game-tying goal ironically came just seconds after the conclusion of a New Jersey penalty midway through the third period.

The Devils’ Joe Faust had only been out of the box for seven seconds following a slashing call in the third period when defenseman Jakub Zboril ripped a shot past Devils goalie Ken Appleby to knot the score at three.

Zboril’s goal couldn’t have been scripted better for Boston: all three of the Bruins’ 2015 first-round draft picks earned a point on the play. Jake DeBrusk, taken 14th overall by Boston, passed to Zachary Senyshyn (15th overall), who fed Zboril (13th overall).

With the game tied, both teams missed a variety of chances for the remainder of regulation. Boston forward Austin Czarnik failed to capitalize out in front of an open net and, moments prior, the Devils could not convert on their fifth power play of the night.

Joseph Blandisi opened the scoring for the Devils with 12:12 minutes to play in the first period. The Devils scored again early in the second, this time on a wrap-around goal from Matt Lorito. But Noel Acciari and Vatrano scored just a minute apart to tie the game at two shortly thereafter.

Blandisi scored his second goal of the game to give the Devils a 3-2 lead early in the third before the Bruins eventually tied it again.

Boston goalie Daniel Vladar, taken in the third round of this year’s draft, stopped 29 of 32 shots in the Bruins’ winning effort. Ken Appleby made 36 saves in the loss for New Jersey.

The Boston win sets up nicely for Monday night’s Prospects Challenge finale between the Bruins and Sabres, with each team having won one game thus far.

Providence coach Bruce Cassidy, who has been leading the Bruins in the tournament, was excited about the opportunity for his players to be tested against one of the league’s top prospects: Boston University product Jack Eichel.

“Our guys, they should relish it,” he said. “I watched him last night, he’s a very good player and we like to think we have some good players here too. It’ll be a good challenge, especially for our D. I think when you get a guy that’s that skilled and crafty, it should be good for them.”

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