Thompson leads Sabres to 4-3 shootout win over Penguins
By JONAH BRONSTEIN
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Tage Thompson had two goals in regulation and scored in the shootout, Alex Tuch also had a shootout goal, and the Buffalo Sabres beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 on Wednesday night for their third consecutive win.
Zemgus Girgensons also scored in regulation for the Sabres, who have won five of six in their best stretch of the season.
"Guys are not getting comfortable with one or two games," Girgensons said. "That was a fun game to play against a good team. Kind of a playoff type of game. It was back and forth."
The Sabres have won three in a row for the first time since starting the season 3-0-0. They have not trailed at any point in those three victories, and responded each time the Penguins rallied to tie.
"We were definitely deserving of a win there," Thompson said. "Earlier in the season, we'd probably be in similar situations like that and maybe fold, or let it spiral out of control. I think we've done a good job recently of just staying with the game plan, no matter what happens with the score."
Thompson scored his team-leading 27th goal to put the Sabres ahead 3-2 one minute into the third period, one-timing a pass from Tuch at the front of the right circle.
Craig Anderson made 23 saves and stopped both shots he faced in the shootout for his sixth win in eight starts.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin each had a goal and an assist for the Penguins, who had won three in a row. Kris Letang had Pittsburgh's other goal, Bryan Rust had two assists, and Casey DeSmith stopped 29 shots. Playing on the second night of a back-to-back, Pittsburgh opened a two-game trip by dropping its league-best road record to 21-7-5.
"It was a hard-fought point, but I don't think we had our best," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "It was just one of those nights where it was a struggle."
Letang tied it for the Penguins on a power play with 4:56 left in the third. Precise passing by Crosby and Malkin set up Letang at the top of the right circle for his seventh goal.
"We battled hard in the third to get that point," Letang said. "It was important to get it. Especially with the race that we're in right now for home ice, and at the top, it's pretty tight."
The Penguins got tying goals from Crosby and Malkin to open and close the second. Crosby netted his 23rd on a power play 26 seconds into the period. Malkin scored his 13th with 1:14 remaining when his backhand pass from beside the net hit Anderson's stick and the leg of Sabres defenseman Henri Jokiharju before bouncing in.
Girgensons gave Buffalo a 2-1 lead with 4:04 left in the second, converting in front on a feed from Kyle Okposo. It was the eighth of the season for Girgensons and his first in four games back since missing seven weeks an undisclosed injury.
Thompson's first goal was set up by Mattias Samuelsson's pass from behind the net with 2:45 remaining in the first.
All three games in the season series went to overtime, with the Sabres winning 2-1 in Pittsburgh on Nov. 16, and the Penguins winning 3-2 at home on Dec. 17.
The surging Sabres have proven tougher to beat of late, Sullivan said.
"They have a lot of young talent, and they are playing with a free spirit," he said. "Those types of teams, they are hard to play against at this time of year."
Anderson was recognized in a pregame ceremony for becoming the 39th NHL goalie with 300 victories. Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams presented a golden stick and commemorative jersey to the 19-year veteran who has won games for six franchises.
U.S. women's national team member Hayley Scamurra was shown on the video scoreboard wearing her silver medal from last month's Beijing Olympics during a stoppage in the first period. Scamurra, a western New York native, plays for the Buffalo Beauts in the NWHL.
Penguins: Conclude trip at the New York Rangers on Friday night.
Sabres: Host the Washington Capitals on Friday night.
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Updated March 23, 2022