NEW YORK – The Buffalo Sabres showed fire. In the end, it was the New York Rangers who made it appear.
J.T. Miller scored on the power play with 2:17 left in overtime, lifting the Rangers to a 3-2 victory Monday in the Winter Classic. The home plate area of Citi Field exploded with plumes of fire following the goal.
The Sabres are proving they're never out of it. After another poor start put them in a 2-0 deficit, they rallied with goals in the second and third periods to tie it.
The Sabres fell to 4-3-5 in the last 12 games, which can be looked at two ways. They've failed to win in eight of the 12, but they've also earned points in nine of the 12.
Buffalo is 10-20-9 this season.
The Sabres had to rally again to earn a point. They fell into a 3-1 hole Friday in New Jersey, but they overcame that two-goal deficit to win, 4-3, in overtime. They couldn't recapture the overtime magic after Jacob Josefson went to the box for tripping in the extra session, giving the Rangers their winning chance.
That was fast: Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian took a roughing penalty just 38 seconds into the game, giving the Rangers early momentum. They took advantage.
On their ninth shot in the opening 4:09, the Rangers took the lead. Two quick passes led to Paul Carey with an open look in the slot, and he made it count to put Buffalo in a 1-0 hole.
And again: New York brought its fans to their feet again with 8:20 gone. The Sabres watched as J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes both spun with the puck in the Buffalo zone. Hayes sent his spin-o-rama into the crease, where Michael Grabner easily freed himself from Jake McCabe to dump the puck into an open net.
Grabner has 18 goals in 39 games.
Power-play strike: The Sabres entered the second period with carryover power-play time. They used 56 seconds of it to make it 2-1.
Jack Eichel pushed the puck to Rasmus Ristolainen at the point, and Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist stopped the shot. Sam Reinhart stood his ground at the top of the crease, kicked the puck to himself and went around Lundqvist for the goal.
Reinhart had no goals and one assist in his previous 16 games.
— Sabres Diehards (@SabresDieHards) January 1, 2018
Another early one: Ristolainen, who jokingly said he didn't want to score in overtime Friday in New Jersey because he wanted his first goal to be in the Winter Classic, scored his second of the year. It was a rocket into the corner with 27 seconds off the clock in the third period, tying it, 2-2.
Kyle Okposo spun below the goal line to keep control of the puck, and Ryan O'Reilly soon pushed it to Ristolainen at the point. The defenseman sent a laser between Lundqvist's glove and the top corner, leaving the Rangers goalie kicking his stick in disgust.
Oooowwweeeee 👀 pic.twitter.com/byuNcfaRPG
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) January 1, 2018
Closing the gap: With help from five New York penalties in a 20-minute span, the Sabres closed their shot deficit to 26-24 after two periods. New York had a 38-32 edge after regulation.
Scary moment: Sabres fans no doubt cringed at the sight of goal scorer and pending free agent Evander Kane crumpling to the ice late in the second. His skate caught an edge and he wobbled toward the ice, and as he did the stick of New York's Mika Zibanejad followed through to strike Kane in the face.
Though it looked like a knee injury was also possibly, blood on his shiny was jersey was the only ailment for Kane. He returned a short time later after getting repairs on the bench.
Throwback: Lehner excited the dugout wearing a mask formerly belonging to Paul Harrison of the 1981-82 Sabres. Lehner made the old-time hockey fashion statement, then changed into his regular mask.
The temperature: The official reading at puck drop was 20.5 degrees. The average for the previous nine Winter Classics was 37 degrees. This was the second-coldest, ahead of only the 13-degree day in 2014 in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Counting the house: The NHL announced a sellout of 41,821 fans.
The lineup: The Sabres went with the same forward group that went 1-0-1 against the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils. Eichel skated between left wing Zemgus Girgensons and right wing Reinhart. O'Reilly centered for Kane and Okposo. Evan Rodrigues was in the middle of Benoit Pouliot anhe 1d Jason Pominville. Jacob Josefson skated between Johan Larsson and Jordan Nolan.
There was a change on defense as Josh Gorges skated with Nathan Beaulieu after being scratched in two straight and four of the last six. Marco Scandella remained with Ristolainen, while McCabe stayed with Bogosian.
Scratches: The pregame warm-up was the only Winter Classic moment for defenseman Justin Falk and forward Scott Wilson. They were scratched.
Defenseman Victor Antipin, who is sick, according to coach Phil Housley, was absent.
Next: After spending six days in New York, the Sabres went home to unpack. They'll pack back up for three more road games. They play Thursday in Minnesota, Friday in Winnipeg and Sunday in Philadelphia. The next home game is Jan. 9 when the Jets visit KeyBank Center.