Tage Thompson celebrates his third goal Friday with linemates Alex Tuch (left) and JJ Peterka. ©2024, Micheline Veluvolu

Tage Thompson, Devon Levi dazzle as Sabres roar back to beat Devils

BUFFALO – As Sabres center Tage Thompson recently began to showcase his slick, often dominant form again, a dynamic night like Friday’s four-goal performance felt inevitable.

Following an underwhelming four months, Thompson has looked like the budding superstar who scored 47 goals and 94 points last season.

In Friday’s come-from-behind 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils, Thompson buoyed the Sabres, scoring a natural hat trick – two goals in the second period and the winner in the third – after they fell behind 2-0 early.

“He’s one of the best players in the world,” said Sabres winger Alex Tuch, who recorded two assists and extended his point streak to seven games. “I feel like he’s dominant out there and he just takes over games.”

Thompson, who’s up to 26 goals and 49 points this season, has compiled seven goals and 11 points in the last seven contests.

“Goals … they’re a byproduct of doing the right things,” said Thompson, whose Sabres moved within six points of the Eastern Conference’s second wild card spot. “I feel like throughout the course of the season I’ve had a lot of great chances and maybe been snakebit at times and maybe let that get to me a little bit. Obviously, when one or two start to go in for you, that confidence starts to come back.”

While Thompson took over Friday before the crowd of 15,721 fans in KeyBank Center, he had some help as the Sabres shook off Wednesday’s embarrassing 6-2 home loss to the Ottawa Senators.

After falling behind 2-0 by the 10:31 mark – remember, they trailed 5-0 after Wednesday’s first period – the Sabres killed two penalties and a brief two-man advantage.

“The kill gave us a lot of momentum,” Thompson said. “Obviously, they get two power plays right after going up 2-0 and that’s kind of a dagger. The kill stepped up big time there. Levi made some huge saves and that gets us some momentum heading into the intermission there and I think we can kind of catch our breath, focus back up.”

Sabres goalie Devon Levi made several critical saves, including three breakaways, to keep the game within reach or tied.

Levi stopped 28 shots overall. Both New Jersey goals deflected in.

“It’s easier to move on when you know it was kind of a bad bounce,” Levi said. “But the mentality is to try to stay even keeled regardless of how the goal goes in. Just flip the page, leave it in the past and look forward.”

After Wednesday’s early debacle, the Sabres, who host the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight, could’ve folded.

“I thought the guys dealt with that very well from a psychological standpoint and came out the second with the determination to elevate and they did,” Sabres coach Don Granato said.

Thompson scored at the top of the left circle 28 seconds into the second period to ignite the Sabres and tied the contest from the inside of the left circle at 17:29.

In between, Levi stopped Jesper Bratt on a breakaway.

Thompson scored the winner 15:26 into the third period, putting defenseman Rasmus Dahlin’s rebound past goalie Jake Allen in close.

New Jersey had just iced the puck, so Thompson called Dahlin’s point shot a “heads-up play.”

“We got a tired group and it was a battle in front of the net,” he said. “That’s the difference and, obviously, we’ve been on the other side of that so we know how important those shifts are.”

Thompson recorded his sixth career three-goal game and is one of four Sabres to register multiple four-goal games.

Winger JJ Peterka scored an empty-net goal to seal the game before Thompson scored into an empty cage.

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