NEW YORK — Zemgus Girgensons, Sam Reinhart and Jimmy Vesey provided the offense and Carter Hutton was strong in goal as the Buffalo Sabres survived a frantic finish to beat the New York Rangers, 3-2, Friday night in Madison Square Garden.
The Sabres (24-23-8) won for just the second time in the last seven games but improved to 3-1 in their last four road games. The Rangers fell to 26-23-4 as Buffalo got revenge for a 6-2 loss here in its previous visit Oct. 24.
Hutton was the loser in that game and it started his 12-game winless streak that ended in his overtime win last Saturday over Columbus.
Hutton was particularly sharp in the third period of this one, stopping the first 17 shots he faced before Mika Zibanejad snapped his shutout bid with 2:53 to go. Hutton finished with 37 saves but things got hairy after Chris Kreider's power-play goal with 1:38 left. The Rangers outshot Buffalo, 23-6, in the third period and 39-28 for the game.
This victory was a solid bounceback for Hutton after he was pulled following the fifth goal of Tuesday's 6-1 loss to Colorado.
First strike: The Sabres broke on top at 10:26 of the first period as Girgensons took a pass from Colin Miller and curled the puck around Alexandar Georgiev for his fifth goal at MSG since the start of the 2015-16 season.
The Latvian Locomotive path: Girgensons has 10 goals on the season, his first double-figure campaign since he totaled 15 in his 2014-15 All-Star season.
Second strike: Reinhart made it 2-0 at 15:16 of the second with a top-shelf backhand off a Jack Eichel feed through the neutral zone. Reinhart had a stride on Rangers forward Filip Chytil from the Buffalo blue line all the way to the goal.
Spirit of Sam: Reinhart's 20th goal came in his 55th game, easily beating his previous career best of 69 games in 2015-16.
Eichel with the tiny delay just before the pass to hit Reinhart in stride, Reinhart with the pullaway speed on Chytil. Head up and top shelf as Georgiev goes down. https://t.co/iVIW39I2Gp
— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) February 8, 2020
The clincher: Vesey burned his old team for his eighth goal of the season at 11:56 of the third, sliding a backhander through Georgiev's legs and then pumping his fist in celebration. Eichel also assisted on that one, pushing his team-high scoring totals to 31-37-68.
The Buffalo lineup: The Sabres went with a standard 12-6 setup as Rasmus Dahlin returned after missing the last two games with what's believed to be a shoulder problem. The healthy scratches were Rasmus Asplund up front and Lawrence Pilut and Zach Bogosian on defense.
With Dahlin back in, he paired with Colin Miller. Brandon Montour moved into Pilut's spot next to Rasmus Ristolainen. Jake McCabe was paired with Henri Jokiharju.
Struggle City: The Sabres entered the game 30th in the NHL since Nov. 1 with a 14-21-6 record and .415 points percentage. The only team worse was Detroit, which improved to 9-30-3 (.250) since that date with Thursday's shootout win in KeyBank Center.
Tough to be a teen-ager: No. 2 overall pick Kaapo Kakko is at right wing on the Rangers' fourth line and having a rugged rookie season as an 18-year-old, with just one goal in 32 games entering Friday. For the season he has seven goals and 10 assists in 48 games with a minus-19 rating that's the worst on the team.
Next: The Sabres returned home after the game and will practice Saturday in KeyBank Center in preparation for another batch of home games. Anaheim is in town for a 3 p.m. matinee on Sunday before rematches with Detroit on Tuesday and Columbus on Thursday.