Tage Thompson scores, fights in Sabres’ preseason win; Kyle Okposo injured

BUFFALO – Sabres center Tage Thompson pounced on Jalen Chatfield, making the defenseman pay for his open-ice hit on winger Vinnie Hinostroza early in Tuesday’s 4-2 preseason win over the Carolina Hurricanes’ junior varsity squad.

In fighting Chatfield 15:41 into the game, Thompson quickly completed a Gordie Howe hat trick – he scored a goal and recorded an assist earlier in the period – and further illustrated the tight-knit group the Sabres have become.

Thompson, the Sabres’ top offensive threat, scored 38 goals last season and just signed a seven-year, $50 million contract extension. Still, he did not hesitate to drop the gloves and defend a teammate in an exhibition game.

“It was awesome,” Hinostroza said of Thompson coming to his defense. “I think it just speaks on our team. Everyone on this team would do that for each other. Yeah, I didn’t see that guy coming, big hit, and Tommer jumps right in and fights him. That just speaks volumes of the character he has as a teammate and the character we have in this room, because I really feel like any guy is going to do that for each other.”

Sabres coach Don Granato acknowledged he was a little concerned watching his No. 1 center throw punches.

“Just get through this without getting injured yourself,” he said. “But it’s obviously a testament to how these guys feel about each other and what they believe they are capable of…

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