Buffalo N.Y. (WGR 550) - The Buffalo Sabres were playing earlier this week with a lot on their minds following Monday night's scary medical emergency surrounding Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin.
In the first quarter of Buffalo's matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, Hamlin went into cardiac arrest and needed CPR and an AED to get his heartbeat restored on the field. Hamlin was rushed the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he was sedated and listed in critical condition.
Just one night after the medical scare with Hamlin, the Sabres were in Washington, D.C. getting set to take on the Capitals at Capital One Arena. Before the game, the team paid tribute to Hamlin by wearing shirts that read “Love for 3” as he made their way to the locker room.
In the end, the Sabres were able to lean on the power of Tage Thompson, as he scored a hat-trick - including the overtime winner - en route to an emotional 5-4 win in the nation's capital.
While Tuesday's win over the Capitals may not have been the prettiest of victories for the Sabres, head coach Don Granato says it's all about making sure you learn from the sloppy games and build upon the learned mistakes.
“If you’re going to win a Stanley Cup, you’re going to make tons, and tons of mistakes. You better get comfortable with not letting those mistakes affect the next play,” said Granato on Thursday during his weekly appearance on the "Howard and Jeremy Show" on WGR.
Thompson has been getting a lot of praise in the NHL this season, in particular for his play in the month of December with being twice named a "Star of the Week", and also being the league's "Third Star of the Month".
So far this season, Thompson is on pace to finish the 2022-23 campaign as one of the league's top scorers. While his play has stood out amongst some of the league's top players, Granato feels the four other guys on the ice with Thompson also play a significant role.
“Chemistry is developing, the belief system is getting stronger, which is essential to growth. It's another occurrence that we’re all watching and witnessing,” Grantao said.
It also seems that the Sabres have been finding answers in goal with Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen being able to steal games for the Sabres.
So far this season, Luukkonen has won seven of his last eight with a .911 save percentage. Granato says it is the perfect scenario for him to be evolving his game at this level.
With Luukkonen playing better and Eric Comrie getting healthier and playing down in Rochester on a conditioning assignment, Granato did not shy away from the idea of keeping three goaltenders on the roster.
“We hope that it continues to be a very tough decision, and it would be today because U.P.L. is playing incredibly well," Granato said with Jeremy White and Joe DiBiase. "At some point, Comrie will exhaust time that he can be in Rochester by virtue of his veteran status.”
Hear more of Granato’s appearance during the “Howard and Jeremy Show” available in the player below: