On a night meant to honor former Ottawa Senators star goaltender Craig Anderson, it was two high-powered offenses that stole the show.
Anderson, who serves as a hockey liaison for the Buffalo Sabres, watched the visitors cruise to a 5-1 lead before almost letting it all slip away.
A furious rally by the Senators narrowed the deficit to 5-4 with 35 seconds remaining, but Thompson got an empty-netter for his second goal of the night and locked down a wild win.
Zemgus Girgensons and Alex Tuch also added goals for the Sabres.
Jakob Chychrun, Vladimir Tarasenko, Josh Norris and Mathieu Joseph scored for Ottawa.
Senators starter Anton Forsberg was chased from the net after allowing five goals on 18 shots through two periods. Joonas Korpisalo made five saves in the third. Sabres goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen got the win for Buffalo with 34 saves.
Senators coach D.J. Smith said he would have liked to have seen more from Forsberg, who was 2-0 with a .933 save percentage heading into this contest, but he was careful not to place all the blame at his goalie’s feet.
“I thought it was a weird one,” Smith said after. “I mean, every chance they had early went in. There were some tips there but we have to do a better job boxing out. Obviously, you want better tonight.”
Senators forward Claude Giroux elected to focus on the positive.
“As frustrating as it is, we have 76 games left,” he said. “It’s not time to hit the panic button, but it’s time to keep working on our game, keep finding ways to be consistent for 60 minutes, and if we do that we’re going to start winning hockey games.”
Senators captain Brady Tkachuk left the game late in the second period after what looked like a light, routine collision. Tkachuk was immediately distressed, throwing off his glove and sprinting off the ice and down the hall to the Senators’ locker room. He returned for the third period.
Smith said Tkachuk was “fine” and had a stinger on the elbow, but he may miss time regardless.
Tkachuk took an instigator penalty in the final five minutes of the game after he took exception to a hit by Tuch and thus faces the possibility of a suspension.
The Senators can appeal, however.
“I know what the rule is for - I don’t see that situation at all,” said Smith “I saw a guy that went out of his way to hit him dirty and he sticks up for himself, so the league will make that call and let us know.”
For their part, the Sabres were willing to look past the late-game fireworks.
“I thought we played simple,” Tuch said. “I thought we frustrated them throughout the whole game. I thought we capitalized on some opportunities, but we played really hard.”
The Senators’ loss came on a night dedicated to their former star netminder and owner of the franchise record with 202 wins.
Anderson signed a one-day contract earlier in the day to end his career on the team he spent 10 years with.
NOTES: Anderson dropped the puck for a ceremonial faceoff that featured the two starting goalies instead of the team captains. … Artem Zub missed his second consecutive game after taking a puck in the ear last week.
Sabres: At New Jersey Devils on Friday.
Senators: At New York Islanders on Thursday.
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