NEW YORK -- A relatively tame affair for 40 minutes erupted into a frenetic final period Monday in Madison Square Garden.
The entertainment value was high but the damage tab was nonetheless heavy for the Buffalo Sabres.
After Zemgus Girgensons wiped out a 3-1 deficit with two goals in 74 seconds, the Sabres quickly gave up the two goals right back and eventually suffered a 6-3 loss to the New York Rangers. It was Buffalo's third straight defeat overall.
It was also the Sabres' eighth straight loss to the Rangers, their worst stretch ever against New York. Buffalo is 0-7-1 in those games since a 3-1 win in March, 2013 at First Niagara Center. In the previous seven games Buffalo had scored just six goals.
J.T. Miller scored the game-winning goal at 6:44, sweeping home a deflected pass into an empty net exactly one minute after Girgensons' second tally.
Mats Zuccarello made it 5-3 at 9:23 with a power-play goal, one-timing home a wicked cross-ice pass from Derek Stepan with David Legwand in the penalty box for holding. Derek Brassard hit the empty net with 35.2 seconds left.
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Latvian Locomotive: Girgensons' return to the lineup -- and to Jack Eichel's wing after a four-game absence due to injury -- was a huge success. He scored at 4:31 of the third with a shot just under the crossbar on Henrik Lundqvist and tied the game at 3-3 at 5:44 on a breakaway after a neat Jack Eichel feed.
Eichel line summary: Girgensons posted the first multi-game road game of his career and his two quick goals equaled his output of the last 31 games. He has five goals on the season. Eichel posted his fourth two-assist game of the season, and Matt Moulson's assist on Girgensons' first goal was his first point in 19 games.
Coach on the warpath: The Rangers were playing the second half of a back-to-back following Sunday's 3-0 loss at Ottawa. A disgusted coach Alain Vigneault cut off his press conference after that game after just 90 seconds.
"We had so many guys that were off their game, it was unbelievable,” Vigneault said. “We were on the outside the whole night. Just didn’t have a good game at all."
Similar feeling: The Sabres were also coming off a 3-0 loss, Friday to Detroit. So that left coach Dan Bylsma wary of what his team might see. Joked Bylsma: "There were similar scores and similar 'talking-tos.' "
Tough tip: The Rangers opened the scoring at 5:58 of the first period as defenseman Dylan McIlrath's snapshot from the left circle ticked off the shaft of Rasmus Ristolainen's stick and beat Johnson.
Tough tip II: Buffalo tied it at 16:13 of the first as Brian Gionta took a Marcus Foligno flip out of mid air and tipped it between the legs of Henrik Lundqvist for his sixth goal of the season.
Drought city: Gionta's goal ended the Sabres' shutout string at 99 minutes, 35 seconds. And it was Buffalo's first goal in 5-on-5 play in more than 228 minutes. The Sabres did not have a single goal at even strength in any of their three previous games.
Killer Killers: The Sabres killed off their first three penalties before the Zuccarello goal. That tally ended a run of 22 straight penalties killed that was their most since Oct. 14-29, 2011, when they killed 24 in eight games.
Milestone Watch: Sabres winger Evander Kane played in his 400th NHL game. Kane entered the game fourth in the NHL in shots on goal per game at 3.9, and as the only player in the league to lead his team in shots and hits per game (2.8).
Roster report: Josh Gorges (upper body) did not take the morning skate and sat for the second straight game, as well as the fourth in the last five. Carlo Colaiacovo and Phil Varone were healthy scratches. Buffalo's injury list includes Tyler Ennis, Nic Deslauriers and Sam Reinhart.
Up Next: The Sabres were to fly to Ottawa right after the game to take on the Senators Tuesday night at Canadian Tire Centre in their final game prior to the All-Star Break. After that, the team doesn't play again until Feb. 3 in Montreal. The next home game in First Niagara Center is Feb. 4 against Boston.