TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. -- The Buffalo Sabres prospects held off a fierce rally from the prospects of the New York Rangers organization to stay in the driver’s seat of the Ted Lindsay Division at the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Mich.
Nikita Zadorov, a first-round selection by the Sabres in the 2013 NHL Draft, ripped a slap shot from the point past Rangers goaltender Jeff Malcolm with 21.6 seconds left in overtime to give the Sabres a 6-5 victory. The game-winner was Zadorov’s second goal of the evening.
Zadorov, a Russian-born defenseman who plays for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, said it’s the first overtime goal he’s scored since coming over from Russia.
“It’s my first overtime goal in North America and my first overtime goal for Buffalo and it’s so exciting,” he said.
The Sabres held a 5-2 lead over New York with 10:11 left in regulation before the Rangers stormed back to tie the game in 2:05. Oscar Lindberg scored a hat trick for the Rangers and played a role in three of the team’s four third-period goals, scoring twice in the period.
Penalties and special teams proved important as the game wore on. Buffalo took seven minor penalties in the game and the Rangers committed five of their own. Lindberg’s third goal came on the power play with 6:45 to play.
“We need to get a little bit tighter on our penalty kill and that’s what inevitably got them back into the hockey game was their power play,” coach Chadd Cassidy said.
Eric Locke led the Sabres in scoring with a goal and three assists while Nicholas Baptiste recorded two goals and an assist. Baptiste also scored in the tournament's opening game on Thursday.
Midway through the second period, Cassidy shook up the lines. He moved Zemgus Girgensons up on the wing with Johan Larsson and Joel Armia. That allowed Daniel Catenacci to center Baptiste and Locke. Cassidy said he thought that helped get the team going.
"[Catenacci] was really good tonight, especially in his own zone, Cassidy said. “…He can find people offensively and he finds them a lot more when he’s playing in the middle. It really worked out well for us. I think if we get two bigger guys with [Armia] that kind of grind it out a little more then it frees up some space for him.”
We want to win. We know you probably need to be 3-0 to get to the [championship game] and that’s where we want to be at. - Nicholas Baptiste
Either Baptiste or Locke contributed on five of the six Buffalo goals. They scored 23 seconds apart in the third period to put Buffalo ahead 5-2.
Locke was drafted by the Sabres in the seventh round of the 2013 draft. It’s the second-straight game for the Sabres in which all of their goals came from the Class of 2013.
“It finally clicked [for me],” Locke said. “I was just working hard. Even my first goal, it was off a broken shot, fan shot. It’s good to get the first one out of the way and the other guys are putting the puck in the net too, so that’s nice to see.”
After the Rangers rally, Buffalo had a few chances toward the end of regulation and in overtime before Zadorov put the nail in the coffin with a low blast from point in the middle of the ice.
“I just closed my eyes and shot it and scored,” he said, grinning. “No, I’m kidding. I saw the spot and just shot low.”
Emotions also ran high. Center Justin Kea, a third-round pick by the Sabres in the 2012 NHL Draft got into a spirited bout with Paxton Leroux of the Rangers midway through the first period behind the Sabres net.
Then in the third period, defenseman Alex Lepkowski, who was drafted by the Sabres in the fifth-round in 2011 and is currently signed to an American Hockey League contract with the Rochester Americans, dropped the gloves with Klarc Wilson in front of the Rangers bench.
“Everyone really played their role,” Locke said. “Everyone was hitting. Everyone was backchecking, so that’s good to see and with Kea and [Lepkowski] both fighting and sticking up for guys on our team, that’s good as well.”
Andrey Makarov got the start for Buffalo and turned aside 27 of 32 shots. Malcom stopped 33 of 39 Sabres attempts on goal.
The Sabres next take on the Carolina Hurricanes’ team of prospects Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. The game can be heard live on 1520 AM and at Sabres.com. WGR 550’s Paul Hamilton will handle play-by-play duties with Sabres studio host Brian Duff providing in-game analysis. The Sabres will look to lock up the first-place position in their division.
“It was a full team effort,” Baptiste said. “Guys were pushing. We want to win. We know you probably need to be 3-0 to get to the [championship game] and that’s where we want to be at.”
1-0 New York Rangers - OSCAR LINDBERG (power play) (unassisted) 4:58
1-1 Buffalo Sabres - NICHOLAS BAPTISTE (ERIC LOCKE) 8:10
2-1 Buffalo Sabres - NIKITA ZADOROV (power play) (NICHOLAS BAPTISTE, FREDERICK ROY) 10:50
3-1 Buffalo Sabres - LOGAN NELSON (COLIN JACOBS, ERIC LOCKE) 16:02
3-2 New York Rangers - OSCAR LINDBERG (DANNY KRISTO) 5:59
4-2 Buffalo Sabres - NICHOLAS BAPTISTE (ERIC LOCKE) 9:24
5-2 Buffalo Sabres - ERIC LOCKE (unassisted) 9:41
5-3 New York Rangers - DANNY KRISTO (unassisted) 11:38
5-4 New York Rangers - OSCAR LINDBERG (power play) (DANNY KRISTO) 13:19
5-5 New York Rangers - JOSH GRAVES (unassisted) 13:40
6-5 Buffalo Sabres - NIKITA ZADOROV (CHAD RUHWEDEL) 4:37
Zemgus Girgensons – Johan Larsson – Joel Armia
Eric Locke – Daniel Catenacci – Nicholas Baptiste
Frederick Roy – Colin Jacobs – Logan Nelson
Peter Trainor – Justin Kea – Justin Bailey
Brady Austin – Chad Ruhwedel
Nikita Zadorov – Rasmus Ristolainen
Alex Lepkowski – Jerome Gauthier-Leduc
Jesper Fast – Oscar Lindberg – Danny Kristo
J.T. Barnett – Andrew Yogan – Michael St. Croix
Josh Graves – Anthony Duclair – Josh Nicholls
Paxton Leroux – Michael Kantor – Klarc Wilson
Conor Allen – Troy Donnay
Ben Fanelli – Charlie Dodero
Ryan Graves – Jimmy Oligny