NEW YORK – Two goals are better than none. But they still weren't enough to get the Buffalo Sabres a win Tuesday night in the opener of their five-game road trip.
After back-to-back shutout losses over the weekend to Philadelphia, the Sabres showed quite a bit more spunk but got the same result as the New York Rangers eked out a 3-2 win over Buffalo in Madison Square Garden.
Pavel Buchnevich scored a goal and assisted on another in the first 2:36 as the Rangers improved to 8-9-3 and dropped Buffalo deeper into the East Division cellar at 6-11-3. The Sabres are 0-3-1 in their last four games.
The real highlight of the night might have come at 7:11 of the third period when rookie Dylan Cozens engaged New York defenseman Ryan Lindgren in his first NHL fight and scored a series of hard rights.
Neither team scored in the third period of a tight game that saw Buffalo outshoot the Rangers, 24-19. The count was just 5-3 in the final 20 minutes.
Crazy start: The Rangers scored on the game's first shot as Buchnevich beat Carter Hutton on a breakaway at 28 seconds after a great stretch pass by Mika Zibanejad burned Rasmus Dahlin through the neutral zone. The Sabres came right back to tie it at 55 seconds as Sam Reinhart chipped home a Victor Olofsson pass.
Long time coming: The Reinhart goal ended the Sabres' shutout streak at 126 minutes, 42 seconds overall and the final count was 175:44 at 5 on 5.
Falling behind again: The Rangers went back in front at 2:36 as Buchnevich capitalized on a grievous Brandon Montour turnover to send the puck to the crease, where it deflected home off rookie Alexis Lafreniere.
The patient Buchnevich got Hutton down and the Buffalo goaltender got tied up with Jacob Bryson and was out of the play. Buchnevich's shot banked in for Lafreniere's third goal of the season and second against Buffalo. Lafreniere, the No. 1 overall pick in the October draft, has his first three-game point streak in the NHL.
Stretching the lead: Chris Kreider gave New York a 3-1 lead at 9:32 of the second, beating Hutton high glove on a shot that went through the legs of Montour and likely prevented Hutton from seeing it until the last minute.
From long range: The Sabres got a rare seeing-eye goal at 16:21 as Tobias Rieder threaded the needle from the right point courtesy of a Dylan Cozens screen. It was Rieder's fourth goal of the season.
Next: The Sabres will remain in the New York area for the rest of the week. They have a CBA-mandated day off on Wednesday and then open a three-game series against the New York Islanders on Nassau Coliseum on Thursday night. The teams play matinees Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at noon, with the finale nationally televised on NBC.