Devils fall 5-2 to Sabres as Tage Thompson scores four goals

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Tage Thompson scored four times, including the go-ahead goal with 4:34 remaining, and the Buffalo Sabres beat the Devils 5-2 on Friday night to put a dent in New Jersey’s late-season playoff push.

Thompson’s natural hat trick rallied Buffalo from a 2-0 deficit, and he capped the outing with an empty-netter with 6 seconds left.

The loss left the Devils five points behind the Washington Capitals, who hold the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot. New Jersey lost for just the third time this season — 16-2-1 — when leading after one period.

Buffalo, meanwhile, stayed mathematically in the race by moving into 12th in the East, a point a ahead of Pittsburgh, and six behind the Capitals.

JJ Peterka, with his fifth goal in four games, also scored an empty-net goal. Alex Tuch had two assists to extend his point streak to seven games, in which he’s combined for a goal and nine assists. Devon Levi stopped 28 shots.

Max Willman and Jesper Bratt scored for the Devils, who blew a chance to win three straight for just the fifth time this season. Jake Allen stopped 31 shots in dropping to 4-3 since being acquired in a trade with Montreal.

After scoring twice in the second period, Thompson completed his sixth-career three-or-more-goal outing by batting down Rasmus Dahlin’s shot from the left point. The puck dribbled under Allen, and Thompson used his lengthy reach to sweep the puck in behind the goalie.

Thompson’s surge began after Willman deflected in Luke Hughes’ point shot and Bratt had a shot deflect in off Peterka’s stick to stake the Devils to a 2-0 lead 10:31 into the first period.

Thompson responded by scoring 28 seconds into the second period off Timo Meier’s turnover in the neutral zone. He then tied it with 2:31 left into the period after being set up in the middle by Tuch, who forced John Marino to cough up the puck at the left boards.

Hughes’ assist on Willman’s goal was the rookie defenseman’s 41st point of the season. He now ranks third on the team’s rookie list, one point ahead of Scott Niedermayer, and one behind Viacheslav Fetisov. Will Butcher holds the record with 44 points in 2017-18.


Devils: Host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night.

Sabres: Host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.