NEW YORK -- Three rallies. No go-ahead goal. Another loss.
That was the disappointing tale for the Buffalo Sabres Thursday night as Pavel Buchnevich's goal with 3:58 left in the third period snapped the third tie of the night and gave the New York Rangers a 4-3 win over Buffalo in Madison Square Garden.
Buchnevich, a 22-year-old who came from the KHL in Russia last season, scored his 12th goal of the year by tapping the puck into an empty net off a Mika Zibanejad feed. The play started when Rick Nash stripped the puck from Sam Reinhart near the Buffalo blueline. Buchnevich and Nash both had three points in the game, with Nash posting his second straight two-goal output.
In the first game after their bye week, the Sabres fell to 11-25-9 with their second one-goal loss of the month to the Rangers -- and their 16th one-goal loss of the season. They suffered a 3-2 overtime loss to New York in the Winter Classic Jan. 1 in Citi Field.
The Sabres, who are 2-6-2 in their last 10 games, also failed to win two straight for the eighth straight time this year. Buffalo never led in the game but came back to pull even on three occasions.
Dramatic third: The Rangers snapped a 2-2 tie on Nash's goal at 6:49 of the third period, his second of the game. But the Sabres tied it with 5:01 left on Rasmus Ristolainen's shot from the point, their second power-play goal of the night. The game ended with the Sabres on a 6-on-4 power play but Henrik Lundqvist robbed Ristolainen in the final four seconds and the Rangers hung on.
"We directed a lot to the net and there's a big difference of just shooting to shoot," said Reinhart, who assisted on two goals. "The guys out top did a great job tonight. When there was a lane to the net and a separation, they were able to find it. We were all going to the net and getting the puck back."
Numbers games: The Sabres had a 37-34 advantage in shots on goal and a 70-61 edge in attempts. Evander Kane (7) and Jack Eichel (6) combined for 13 shots on goal but didn't score. Eichel had two assists.
Rough start: The Rangers took the lead at 1:24 as Nash burned Robin Lehner high to the glove side on a breakway after bursting away from Jake McCabe in the neutral zone. Justin Falk's bad pinch left McCabe in trouble and he was unable to stop the speed of Nash on the play.
Pulling Even I: The Sabres tied the game with 1:19 left in the period on Kyle Okposo's power-play goal. Okposo beat Lundqvist through the pads after a nifty diagonal pass from Reinhart.
Okposo is for offense: Okposo's goal was his eighth of the season and marked the first time this season he has scored in consecutive games. Okposo has two goals and four assists in the last three games and 11 points in the last 11 games (3-8).
Falling behind: The Rangers went ahead, 2-1, on J.T. Miller's goal at 8:26 of the second, a snapshot that beat Lehner high to the glove side in the wake of a McCabe giveaway. It came 18 seconds after Casey Nelson got out of the penalty box after a holding penalty.
Pulling Even II: The Sabres tied the game, 2-2, on Justin Falk's goal at 17:10 of the second period, a shot from the right point that beat Lundqvist between the legs after a screen from Zemgus Girgensons. It was Falk's first goal of the season and first goal as a Sabre. It was his 74th game for the Sabres the last two years.
Falk's career stats: The goal was the 29-year-old Buffalo defenseman's third in 245 career NHL games. It was his first goal in 101 games, since he scored for Columbus at New Jersey on March 6, 2015. His other goal came for Minnesota on Jan. 24, 2012 at Colorado.
"Get it to the net and let the forwards battle away," Falk said. "Fortunately for me, it had eyes there."
Bizarre call: Reinhart assisted on the first two Buffalo goals and was victimized by one of the worst embellishment calls in NHL history as he was sent to the penalty box by referee Kyle Rehman with 5:04 left in the second period even though he was plummeted into the end boards by Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. The New York blueliner got a cross-checking call but Buffalo got no power play as Reinhart was also sent off on an even-up call.
"I said he sent the standard with Casey Nelson trying to be strong down low (on a cross-checking call in the first period) and then Sam gets an embellishment penalty which I totally disagree with," said coach Phil Housley. "He set the standard at the beginning of the game and now he's going to give embellishment for a guy who's head is going into the boards."
"I've never really dived in my life and I certainly didn't there," Reinhart said. "I had a good talk with him after. I respect him as a ref and we've seen a lot of each other even growing up. It's his call to make and I respect that but I don't know what he saw there."
Up next: The Sabres headed home right after the game and will practice Friday in KeyBank Center. They'll host the surging Dallas Stars in a matinee Saturday at 1 in their final home game prior to the All-Star break. The team heads West on Sunday to open a three-game road trip Monday in Calgary.