WASHINGTON — Tage Thompson completed a hat trick 3:00 into overtime, and the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Washington Capitals 5-4 at Capital One Arena on Tuesday.
Alex Tuch blocked Lars Eller‘s pass below the goal line, won a puck battle and passed in front to Thompson for the game-winner, his 30th goal of the season.
“I think [we] were trying to make a safer play, instead of getting checked into the corner just throwing it out to the middle of the ice,” Washington coach Peter Laviolette said. “I think [we] were trying to go back one more time and [Tuch], he read it pretty good just keeping the stick in position. Things bumble around in two seconds, and it ended up in Thompson’s stick six feet outside the crease.”
GM Kevyn Adams was the only member of the Sabres organization to speak after the game because of the situation with Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who went into cardiac arrest during the National Football League game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday.
“I just want to say that our thoughts and our hearts and prayers are with Damar and his family, the entire Bills organization,” Adams said. “You know what happened last night is something that makes the game itself and any sport secondary.”
Thompson also had an assist to go with his third hat trick of the season for the Sabres (19-15-2). Tuch had a goal and two assists, and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 28 saves.
Alex Ovechkin scored two goals for the Capitals (21-13-6), who have an eight-game point streak (6-0-2) after rallying from a 3-1 deficit. Sonny Milano had a goal and an assist, and Darcy Kuemper made 24 saves.
“Inconsistent game for us and something that we’ve been doing a good job of I think is playing consistently, consistently hard, good defensively,” Washington forward T.J. Oshie said. “Tonight, just a little too inconsistent against a team that can make you pay for playing like that.”
The Capitals took a 4-3 lead at 7:10 of the third period when Ovechkin scored from the slot off a Conor Sheary pass from behind the goal line, but Tyson Jost tied it 4-4 at 11:42, redirecting a pass from Casey Mittelstadt by Kuemper from in front.
Tuch gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead at 10:48 of the first period. Thompson got to the puck in the right face-off circle, spun and sent a backhand pass to Tuch, who swept the puck past Kuemper.
Milano tied it 1-1 at 12:07, scoring with a backhand shot on a breakaway.
Thompson put the Sabres ahead 2-1 when he scored on a one-timer from the left circle at 17:29 during a power play.
“Obviously he’s big, strong,” Ovechkin said of Thompson. “Good puck mover, you know? Has great shot.”
Thompson made it 3-1 at 5:50 of the second period, receiving a pass from Tuch and scoring on a wrist shot to the far side from the right hash marks.
Ovechkin pulled the Capitals within 3-2 a 16:46. Evgeny Kuznetsov guided a face-off back to Ovechkin, who scored on a wrist shot from the top of the right circle for his 27th goal of the season.
Ovechkin has five goals in his past two games and 28 for the season.
“I think everything was when we start to play hard, we start put puck deep, forechecking well, it kind of opens up in the offense zone,” Ovechkin said. “We have very good chances right away in the second period then execute and then score.”
Nic Dowd tied it 3-3 when he knocked in the rebound of Milano’s shot 55 seconds into the third.
The Sabres wore custom T-shirts in honor of Hamlin before the game. The shirts read “Love for 3,” Hamlin’s jersey number, in the Bills’ red and blue colors. Adams wore a “3” on his lapel.
“It’s hard to say much about the game, to be honest,” Adams said. “What I can tell you, though, is we talked as a group this morning. We have such good people in our locker room, players, coaches, staff, and it wasn’t feeling right this morning. It didn’t feel like a normal game day, so we talked about it as a group. I told them, to be honest, how proud I am of them and what they’ve done in this community through a lot of tough times.”
NOTES: Thompson reached 30 goals in 36 games. Only two Sabres reached 30 in a season in fewer games: Alexander Mogilny (30 games in 1992-93), and Pat LaFontaine (31 games in 1991-92). … Thompson has 32 points (13 goals, 19 assists) in his past 21 games, and Tuch has 30 points (11 goals, 19 assists) in his past 21 games. … Oshie played 15:39 and had two shots on goal in his return after missing six games because of an upper-body injury. … Dowd won 18 of 23 face-offs. … Capitals defenseman Erik Gustafsson had his seven-game point streak (six goals, seven assists) end.