Rangers build 3-0 lead, hang on for 4-2 win over Sabres

New York Rangers center Eric Staal, left, shoots the puck on Buffalo Sabres goaltender Chad Johnson (31) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, March 8, 2016, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Mats Zuccarello had a goal and two assists, and the New York Rangers edged the Buffalo Sabres 4-2 on Tuesday night after nearly blowing a three-goal lead.

J.T. Miller sealed the victory with a backhander into an empty net with a minute left after he lost a glove on the rush up the right wing. Derrick Brassard and Jesper Fast also scored for New York, which extended its winning streak over Buffalo to nine.

The Rangers haven’t lost to the Sabres since a 3-1 decision on March 12, 2013. They improved to 13-2 in their past 15 meetings.

Sam Reinhart and Johan Larsson scored for Buffalo. The Sabres were 2-0-2 in their previous four and blew a chance for their first five-game point streak since going 7-0-2 in March 2012.

The Rangers built a 3-0 lead on their first 12 shots before losing much of their momentum against a Sabres team playing on consecutive nights.

Brassard opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 7:30 of the first. Zuccarello set him up for a breakaway.

Then New York chased Sabres starter Robin Lehner by scoring two times on consecutive shots in a span of 1:27 in the second period.

Zuccarello beat Lehner from a bad angle by finding a hole through the goalie’s legs from the lower right circle. Fast took advantage of teammate Chris Kreider’s screen on Lehner, snapping a shot inside the left post.

Lehner stopped 11 shots and was replaced by Chad Johnson, who stopped all 11 shots he faced.

The switch provided a spark for Buffalo as it attempted its second straight come-from-behind victory after overcoming a two-goal deficit in the third period to beat Toronto 4-3 in a shootout on Monday.

Jack Eichel fed Reinhart for a tap-in on a 3-on-1 rush with 9:48 left in the second period. And then Larsson scored six minutes later by sweeping in Brian Gionta’s feed into the middle through Antti Raanta’s legs.

Raanta, who allowed five goals on 31 shots in a 6-4 loss to the Islanders on Sunday, came up big by stopping Nicolas Deslauriers’ hard shot from the right circle in the final minute of the second period.

The Rangers had a goal disallowed with 3:03 left in the second. Eric Staal was parked at the right post, where he took several whacks at the puck before it eventually dribbled under Johnson and across the line. Officials waved off the goal by ruling Rangers forward Oscar Lindberg pushed Johnson into the net.

Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh made several key defensive plays in the third period, including swiping the puck off of Eichel’s stick as the rookie was driving toward the net with 6:05 left.

Earlier in the third period, McDonagh plopped in the crease during a Sabres scramble in front. He stopped Matt Moulson’s attempt before Raanta finally smothered the puck.

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