TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Ilya Lyubushkin scored a short-handed goal 1:41 into overtime, helping Tage Thompson and the Buffalo Sabres beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-5 on Thursday night.
With Thompson scoring three times in his fourth hat trick of the season, Buffalo led 5-3 early in the third period. After Tampa Bay rallied, the Sabres got the win when Lyubushkin beat Andrei Vasilevskiy on a breakaway for his first goal of the season. Zemgus Girgensons and Jack Quinn also scored for Buffalo, and Eric Comrie made 36 saves.
“I just saw a straight line and wanted to go as fast as possible,” the defenseman said after scoring his fourth goal in 253 NHL games. “I saw I had a little bit of time, not a lot, and I just tried to shoot.”
The Sabres are in a six-team battle for the two wild-card playoff berths in the Eastern Conference. They ended a seven-game losing streak at Amalie Arena.
“It feels nice for my team, that’s more important than me, we’re trying to push for the playoffs right now,” Lyubushkin said. “It’s important for us game by game. If you want to make the playoffs, everyone is important. The goalie made a lot of saves. Everyone made a difference.”
Thompson put Buffalo ahead 2-1 in the second period by scoring on the power play, and then made it 3-1 at 12:20 when he took a pass from Jeff Skinner and beat Vasilevskiy on a breakaway. He scored his career-high 39th goal 6:18 into the third, giving the Sabres a 5-3 lead.
“For me, when I’m skating up the ice I’m just trying to get open and find a spot,” Thompson said. “It was one of those nights where everything was coming to me.”
Thompson leads the NHL with 22 goals in road games. He’s a big reason why the Sabres are 18-8-2 away from home.
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Tampa Bay made it 5-4 when Anthony Cirelli scored at 8:33, and then tied it with 5:06 remaining when Ross Colton scored a power-play goal.
“We had to work for it,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “We had to stay very dialed in, and focused and it was good to rise above that challenge.”
Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Braydon Point also scored for Tampa Bay. Vasilevskiy made 17 saves but his 12-game home winning streak and his personal six-game win streak against the Sabres both ended.
The Lightning took a 1-0 lead 2:19 into the game when Stamkos beat Comrie with a wrist shot on a 2-on-1 rush. But the Sabres tied it at 11:41 on their first shot on goal; Rasmus Dahlin’s shot from the left circle hit Girgensons’ skate in the slot and slid through Vasilevskiy’s five-hole.
Sabres visit Florida on Friday.