Sabres News & Rumors: Thompson, Levi, Cozens & Power

The Buffalo Sabres defeated the Detroit Red Wings, 7-6, in a shootout on Thursday night (April 6). The Sabres’ six goals in regulation were the second time in their past three games they’d scored that many. Tonight, they take on the Carolina Hurricanes desperately hoping that things fall in the right way to help them gain a postseason spot. It isn’t likely, but it is possible.

On Thursday, Tage Thompson and Dylan Cozens both had strong games. Thompson scored his 45th goal of the season, which tied him with Jason Robertson for sixth in the league. Cozens scored two goals and added an assist. He now has 30 goals on the season.

Tage Thompson Buffalo Sabres
Tage Thompson, Buffalo Sabres (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Other Sabres players with goals included Henri Jokiharju, Zemgus Girgensons, and Jordan Greenway. Alex Tuch and Jack Quinn scored in the shootout for Buffalo.

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Despite being six points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the Sabres have a record of 38-32-7 with 83 points. They still have five games left to play, which is more than any other team in the conference. But they are chasing the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders, and Florida Panthers for a playoff spot. Each of these teams has only three games left.

Item One: Devon Levi Wasn’t Pretty, But Got the Win

Twenty-one-year-old goalie Devon Levi won his second NHL game on Thursday in the win over the Red Wings. He made 26 saves in regulation and overtime, stopping two of three shootout attempts to pick up his second NHL win. The young goalie had allowed only two goals in each of his first two starts. 

Devon Levi Buffalo Sabres
Devon Levi, Buffalo Sabres (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Sabres might play Levi for the third game in a row against Carolina tonight. It would mark the second time in three games that the Hurricanes will face a youngster. Levi’s played in only three NHL games, but already he’s shown confidence in tough situations. 

Related: Sabres’ News & Rumors: Thompson, Tuch, Dahlin & Levi

If the Sabres effectively fall out of the playoff race, will Levi serve as the team’s No. 1 goalie to finish out the schedule?

Item Two: Should the Sabres Shut Down Thompson?

Sabres forward Thompson had a two-point effort in Thursday’s shootout win. He scored his 45th goal of the season. He now has put up 92 points in 74 games and has a chance to hit the 100-point mark with five games left on the schedule. 

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However, the Sabres’ postseason predicament seems dire. The team is currently six points away from the final wild-card spot, held by either the Islanders or the Panthers. As noted, they’d need to jump the Penguins as well. If Buffalo is eliminated from playoff contention and Thompson is even slightly injured, what to do?

Would you shut him down for the remainder of the season? Or, would you let him go for 100 points? Given how Thompson gutted out playing injured, I’m guessing I know what he’d like to do.

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Thompson’s 92 points make him the first Sabres player to reach that mark since Daniel Brière did so in 2006-07. His 45 goals in a single season make him the first Sabres player to achieve this since Alexander Mogilny and Pat LaFontaine did so in 1992-93. That’s some really good company in Sabres’ history.

Item Three: Owen Power Picks Up Three Assists

Owen Power was also impressive in Thursday’s win. He registered three assists (including one on the power play). The 20-year-old former first-overall pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft has had his challenges in his first full season. That includes a 23-game goal drought. However, over the last 12 games, Power has racked up 10 assists. 

Owen Power Buffalo Sabres
Owen Power, Buffalo Sabres (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He now has a total of four goals and 34 points in 74 games. He’s the first Sabres rookie defenseman who has put up six or more assists in a five-game stretch since Nikita Zadorov in 2015

Item Four: Dylan Cozens Is Finishing the Season Strong

With so many goals scored on Thursday, Cozens also had a big scoring night with two goals and an assist. The 21-year-old forward’s first goal of the game was No. 30 on the season, which is a big jump from the 13 he scored last season. 

Although the Sabres are unlikely to make the playoffs, they have so many young budding stars that the future looks bright. Cozens is ending his season strong, with five goals and nine points in the last eight games. He is one of only a few Sabres’ players in history to score 30 or more goals while he was 21 years old. 

What’s Next for the Sabres? 

It would seem the Sabres have to win out to have any chance to advance to the postseason. However, even writing today’s post made me realize how young and talented this team is. 

Related: Sabres’ Goaltending Group Needs To Be Fronted by Devon Levi

Is it only dreaming, but if Levi holds up as a goalie with both confidence and skill, might he be the tipping point for this team’s forward movement? The team has had goalie issues this season, with the soon-to-be-retired Craig Anderson as the best goalie of the bunch. If Levi is the real deal, watch out for the Sabres.

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