The Buffalo Sabres started their home season on a strong note with a 3-2 victory over the visiting Ottawa Senators in the team’s second preseason game. Led by impressive performances from forwards Derek Grant and Nick Baptiste, the Sabres came from behind twice to edge the Senators in overtime on a Jake McCabe goal.
McCabe snuck down into the slot where he was fed by Grant and didn’t miss up close to win the game.
Grant’s three point night will certainly put him in the conversation for the 13th forward spot coach Dan Bylsma advertised as open last week, and Baptiste’s two points should allow him to move up the depth chart in Rochester to start the season. Robin Lehner also looked sharp, stopping 37 of 39 shots in his first action this season.
“We’re asking a lot of these guys,” Bylsma said. “I thought they handled themselves well.”
The lead up to the game was focused on the Sabres’ major new acquisition Kyle Okposo, as well as the return to the lineup for Tyler Ennis and Lehner, two Sabres that missed substantial amounts of time due to a concussion for Ennis and an ankle injury for Lehner. However, when the puck dropped it was Grant and Baptiste that made the noise.
The Senators opened the third period with another fortunate bounce onto the stick of newly-acquired Derek Brassard, who found the back of the net just 25 seconds into the frame. That would set the tone for a good chunk of the third, with Lehner coming up big on a few occasions to keep it a one-goal game, including a flashy glove save on Kyle Turris. That allowed the Sabres to tie the game on a great offensive shift from the line of Grant, Baptiste and Hudson Fasching, who started a play behind the net that led to Grant scoring his first goal in a Sabres sweater.
The game started slowly for the Sabres, with the team only able to produce eight shots on goal in the first period. On the opposite end, Lehner faced 16 shots in the opening frame, turning all of them away while showing the increased quickness that most assumed his offseason weight loss would afford him.
The Sabres’ preseason continues with the debut of Jack Eichel on Thursday against the Toronto Maple Leafs in St. Catharines, Ontario. Puck drop for that game will be at 7:30 p.m. and it will be broadcast on the MSG Network.