Sabres beat Capitals in OT with Bills' Damar Hamlin on mind

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Buffalo Sabres players walk towards the locker room upon arriving wearing shirts in support of Buffalo Bills football player Damar Hamlin before an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

WASHINGTON – Tage Thompson finished off a hat trick by scoring in overtime, and the Buffalo Sabres beat the Washington Capitals 5-4 on Tuesday night for their seventh victory in eight games.

Thompson also set up Alex Tuch for his 18th goal with a spinning pass off the rush and was the recipient of a great pass on his second of the game. He took advantage of a Capitals turnover to score three minutes into OT for his fourth career hat trick.

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Even after Washington's Alex Ovechkin had two goals, only Connor McDavid has scored more this season than Thompson, who also moved into third in the NHL in points with 55.

Tyson Jost also scored in the third period to tie it for the the Sabres, who have caught fire in recent weeks, including a six-game winning streak that ended Sunday. During that stretch, they had two games postponed because of the deadly blizzard that killed at least 40 and with hockey one of the furthest things from their minds.

Players wore “Love for 3” T-shirts into the arena in honor of Damar Hamlin, the Bills safety who wears that number and who remained hospitalized in Cincinnati after going into cardiac during Buffalo's NFL game Monday night against the Bengals. Signs bearing Hamlin's name and the Bills logo lined the glass during warmups, and the Sabres said neither players nor coach Don Granato would speak to reporters Tuesday because they were still processing Hamlin's situation.

The Sabres and Bills share the same owners, Terry and Kim Pegula, and consider themselves part of the same organization. Although this was a Buffalo road game, the Capitals paid tribute to Hamlin with a moment of support before the national anthem.

When the puck dropped, a matchup of two of hockey's hottest teams tilted slightly in Buffalo's favor. Beyond the top line of Jeff Skinner, Thompson and Tuch producing, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 28 saves to hand Washington just its third loss in 14 games.

Luukkonen did become the 167th NHL goaltender Ovechkin has scored on. Ovechkin beat Luukkonen twice to reach 28 goals this season and 808 in his career, 96 back of Wayne Gretzky's record.

Sonny Milano and Nic Dowd also scored for the Capitals, who got winger T.J. Oshie back from a six-game absence because of an upper-body injury. Goaltender Darcy Kuemper allowed five goals on 29 shots.


Sabres: Host the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.

Capitals: Visit the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.


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