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Thompson Scores Twice in Sabres Victory

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Ottawa Senators Buffalo Sabres game recap

Tage Thompson netted back-to-back goals in the first period to put the Buffalo Sabres in the driver’s seat in the team’s victory over the Ottawa Senators Thursday. It was their third win in four games, and more importantly an effort that laid the blueprint for sustained success.

After Vladimir Tarasenko nullified a JJ Peterka-goal lead, Thompson put the team on his back. His first goal was an end-to-end rush where he was able to do his patented toe drag finish to rip the puck past Anton Forsberg.

Two minutes later, the Sabres found themselves on the powerplay. Thompson retrieved a Jack Quinn to Rasmus Dahlin sequence and again was able to pick his spot – this time from the left circle.

In the second period, Krebs finished a 2-on-1 give and go with Eric Robinson to give the Sabres a 4-1 lead over the Senators.

Ottawa stormed back with two Claude Giroux goals in the third period to test Buffalo’s ability to close, which was answered with a great individual effort by Dylan Cozens to find the empty net.

Impact Player

Without a doubt, Thompson made the biggest impact on the ice Thursday. It was a star player burning his brightest, until an errant stick caught him in the face along the boards in the second period. He went straight down the tunnel although he later returned to the game.

Questions around his health remain, as he left the bench in the latter half of the third period. Postgame video from the Sabres showed Thompson in the locker room postgame with a cut on the bridge of his nose, so perhaps it was precautionary or for further repairs. Don Granato stated there’s “no report” and that “we’ll find out more tomorrow.”

The Difference

The Senators actually had the majority of shot attempts in the game, but blocked shots were a storyline throughout the contest for Buffalo. Ryan Johnson had six of the team’s 29 blocked shots, making a positive impression defensively after a string of games being a healthy scratch.

The Sabres also kept Ottawa to the outside, which in turn limited shot quality. Despite the three goals surrendered, the defense did its job with only 1.68 expected goals against per Evolving-Hockey.

Needs Improvement

If there’s any critique of Thursday night’s effort, it’s the “uh-oh” moment the Sabres left fans with in the third period after Ottawa was able to cut the lead down to one. You’d like to see more of a runaway game based on the underlying performance of the team.

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen looked steady in net most of the night, but a soft chip by him and a five-hole clapper by Giroux were not the best-looking goals to surrender. Still, Buffalo survived and Luukkonen was steady again down the stretch.

What’s Next

The Sabres continue their homestand Saturday evening against the Vancouver Canucks. Vancouver is currently atop the NHL standings with 59 points in 42 games. The game starts at 4pm local time, so it’s a chance to catch the Canucks off-kilter in game six of seven on their Eastern Conference road trip.

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