Tage Thompson and the Buffalo Sabres aim to continue their torrid play on Wednesday when the team concludes its four-game homestand against the skidding Pittsburgh Penguins.
Thompson recorded a hat trick to highlight his career-high, six-point performance in Buffalo’s 8-3 romp over the visiting Detroit Red Wings on Monday. He is the sixth different Sabres player to score six points in a game and the first since Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine on Feb. 10, 1993 — four years before Thompson was born.
Thompson, 25, has five goals and four assists in his past two games to pull even with workhorse defenseman Rasmus Dahlin for the team lead in points with 12.
Despite the recent scoring surge, Thompson insists he won’t let it go to his head.
“I think one of the keys is to probably not get too high,” he said. “Same thing if you have a bad game, you don’t want to get too low. You try to stay even keel and just kind of keep doing what you’ve been doing. That’s the mindset I’m going to stick with going forward.”
Buffalo coach Don Granato likely would expect nothing less from Thompson. After all, he has known Thompson since their time together at the U.S. National Team Development Program.
“It’s enjoyable to watch ‘Tommer,’ having history with him, watching him when he was 16 years old, watching him grind his way to this point in his career,” Granato said.
“The thing that sticks out is the excitement of the bench and the players around him. It really tells you the person he is. … To see that and see a kid that it took so long for him to flourish and be recognized for the talent that he is, to see him fight through that and now start to get rewards for that work, it’s definitely enjoyable.”
Thompson isn’t the only surging Buffalo player, as Jeff Skinner has collected two goals and four assists during a three-game point streak.
Like Skinner, Sabres captain Kyle Okposo has set up a pair of goals in back-to-back games to claim a share of the team lead in assists with six.
While Buffalo has won five of its past seven, the Penguins saw their skid extend to five (0-4-1) with a 6-5 overtime loss to the visiting Boston Bruins on Tuesday night.
Evgeni Malkin collected a goal and an assist to give him five of each on the season. Captain Sidney Crosby and Rickard Rakell also scored to boost their goal totals to five, level with Malkin for the team lead.
Stopping the opposition has been an issue of late for Pittsburgh, which has surrendered 24 goals during its current winless stretch.
“We’re learning the hard way right now,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “If we want to be the team we want to become, we can’t beat ourselves.”
Casey DeSmith likely will get the nod in the Pittsburgh goal after Tristan Jarry stopped 34 shots on Tuesday. DeSmith has yielded nine goals en route to losing his three outings this season (0-2-1).
–Field Level Media