‘We didn’t show up’: Thompson’s six-point night leads Sabres past Wings, 8-3

Detroit News

Buffalo, N.Y. − The Red Wings didn’t get any treats for Halloween, that’s for sure.

Tage Thompson, the rising young Buffalo Sabres star, kept delivering the Wings whatever candy it was you hated to get going door to door (candy corn obviously a popular answer), on a frustrating night in Buffalo.

Thompson had three goals and three assists Monday leading the Sabres to an 8-3 victory over the Red Wings.

“It’s a setback,” captain Dylan Larkin said. “We didn’t show up. They showed up. No matter what level of hockey you play, if you don’t show up, it’s going to be embarrassing. We have to find “it”, “it” meaning the pride of you get into games. One goal game in the third, let’s go and let’s win battles and make it an even game.

“We just lost way too many battles.”

After an impressive defensive effort during Saturday’s victory over Minnesota, coach Derek Lalonde watched his Wings play much too passively against the young, talented Sabres.

“He (Thompson) has a chance to be an absolute superstar,” Lalonde said. “Then again, you have to check those guys. Part of that is easy offense five-on-five, but you’ve seen it when you give elite skill like that free touches if you will, a ton of five-on-threes and four-on-threes (power plays), and they’re touching the puck and feeling the puck, and it bleeds into the five-on-five game.”

Larkin’s shorthanded goal, his fifth goal, cut Buffalo’s lead to 4-3 at 4 minutes, 19 seconds of the third period and gave the Wings some momentum. Larkin skated in on two-on-one rush and wanted to feed Andrew Copp. But the puck deflected back to Larkin, and he snapped a shot past goalie Eric Comrie.

But Thompson set up Rasmus Dahlin for a power-play goal at 12:53 of the third period, Dahlin’s sixth goal, as Dahlin’s shot deflected off Olli Maatta’s skate and through goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic.

After a Dylan Cozens goal made it 6-3, Thompson completed his Halloween hat trick with a nifty move in the slot and beating Nedeljkovic for his sixth goal (and 12th point) this season.

BOX SCORE: Sabres 8, Red Wings 3

Rasmus Asplund mercifully ended the scoring for the Sabres.

“We hung our goalie out to dry and that stinks,” Copp said. “They made it 5-3 and 6-3 and you can’t let it go past that. That’s just unacceptable.

“The fact is, we’re capable of playing good team defense. Fact is, we didn’t play good team defense tonight and we’re going to have to play good team defense.”

Maatta (second goal) and David Perron (fifth goal) added Wings goals, as they dropped 4-3-2 on the young season. Nedeljkovic, under siege most of the evening, stopped 38 shots.

More:Red Wings’ Matt Luff back on the ice after 18 stitches following puck to the face

Thompson had a power-play goal among his two goals, and set up Jeff Skinner and Jack Quinn for goals, while former Red Wing (for a brief time) goaltender Comrie stopped 15 shots for the Sabres.

The Sabres outshot the Wings 14-6 in the first period (and led 1-0) and you could sense the Wings were a step slow.

“We didn’t show up from the start of the game,” Larkin said. “We had the momentum going after the win against Minnesota and that (Monday’s game) was not it.”

Thompson made two big plays toward the end of the second period that gave Buffalo some breathing room.

After Moritz Seider lost control of the puck in the corner, Thompson got the puck and fed Skinner in the slot. Skinner patiently flipped his 300th career goal, his second this season, past Nedeljkovic in the slot at 14:26, giving Buffalo a 3-1 lead.

The Wings promptly worked themselves into deep penalty trouble.

Gustav Lindstrom (holding the stick) and Ben Chiarot (delay of game) put Buffalo on a two-man advantage for 1:01 that Nedeljkovic made some solid saves to keep it 3-1. But with the Sabres still on a power play, Thompson skated into the slot and snapped his second goal of the night, at 18:30.

“We just spent too much time in the box and we gave their high end, elite skill easy offense,” Lalonde said. “That’s not a recipe for success.”

The Sabres appeared to be pulling away, but Perron gave the Wings hope with just under 57 seconds left. Joe Veleno, behind the net, found Perron open in the slot while a Buffalo defender was scrambling to get back up after falling near the crease, cutting Buffalo’s lead to 4-2.

But the Wings ultimately gave Thompson and the Sabres quality chances Buffalo converted.

“We get the shorty (Larkin’s shorthanded goal, making it 4-3) and have some momentum there, and even the late second period goal (Perron’s), and they’ll give you offense if you play correctly,” Lalonde said. “What you can’t do is give them easy offense and that’s what we gave them.”

The Wings continue to play without five forwards who were expected to play considerable minutes – Tyler Bertuzzi (upper-body), Jakub Vrana (NHL/NHPA assistance program), Robby Fabbri (knee surgery), Oskar Sundqvist (upper-body, day-to-day) and Michael Rasmussen (two-game suspension, can return Thursday).

“We get players back, but we are where we are and it’s a reality,” Lalonde said. “We’re days away from the best win of the season (over Minnesota) and our most complete 60 minutes we’ve played. We cannot play soft and play a light game, we have no chance.”


Twitter: @tkulfan

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