BUFFALO — The New Jersey Devils scored four goals during a five-minute blitz, spanning two periods, on their way to a 6-3 victory against the Buffalo Sabres Saturday. A balanced offensive attack helped the Devils take the first of their two games at the 2016 Prospect Challenge at Buffalo’s HarborCenter.
New Jersey received scoring from John Quenneville, Blake Speers, Nathan Bastian, Blake Coleman and Brandon Gignac, who led all scorers with two goals and an assist. Speers and Coleman also contributed helpers. Mile Wood and Kevin Rooney enjoyed multiple points, posting a pair of assists apiece.
“The guys skated well,” said Albany Devils Head Coach Rick Kowalsky. “I thought all four lines contributed and had some good shifts down low and controlled the puck. I thought the defense got better as the game went on defending and moving the puck. That’s what you want to see. Overall I thought it was certainly a solid first game.”
Starting netminder Evan Cormier stopped all nine shots he faced before Ken Appleby replaced him at the beginning of the second period. Appleby, who was credited with the win, made 18 saves.
The Devils faced deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 during the second period. Speers started New Jersey’s four-goal run at 17:53 and Bastian followed at 19:41 to give the Devils a 3-2 advantage at the break.
The team’s momentum carried over into the third period. Wood setup Coleman at 2:28 and Gignac found the back of the net 20 seconds later.
After Buffalo’s Nicholas Baptiste completed his hat trick at 1:47 remaining, Gignac put home an empty-net goal in the closing seconds.
“The third period was certainly our best,” Kowalsky said. “Really textbook. Our speed and we kept it simple. We did some really good things off the rush that led to chances and goals and offensive-zone possession. I think we got better every period and limited our mistakes and moved the puck better in the third.”
The Devils will conclude the Prospect Challenge with a 7 pm game against the Boston Bruins Sunday.