NEW YORK (AP) _ The New York Rangers are the first team to reach the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Rangers completed a four-game sweep last night by scoring the last three goals of a 4-2 triumph over the Atlanta Thrashers.
Brendan Shanahan tied it with 1:42 left in the second period before Matt Cullen provided the game-winner early in the third. Cullen's shot banged off the crossbar and spun on its side just past the goal line.
Michael Rozsival and Jaromir Jagr also scored to help the Rangers clinch a playoff series for the first time in ten years.
The Buffalo Sabres are on the verge of reaching the Eastern Conference semifinals, taking a 3-1 series lead with a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders. Chris Drury has four goals in the series after scoring twice, including the game-winner 39 seconds into the second period.
Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville also scored to support Ryan Miller's 24 saves.
The Sabres can close out the series Friday.
San Jose needs one more win to advance to the Western Conference semifinals after Milan Michalek scored twice in the Sharks' 3-2 win over Nashville. Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo assisted in each of Michalek's two goals as the Sharks took a 3-to-1 lead in the series.
Joe Pavelski also scored and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 23 shots in the Sharks' tenth straight home win against the Predators.
Game five is Friday at Nashville.
And New Jersey has tied its first-round series at two games apiece by knocking off Tampa Bay 4-3 on an unassisted goal by Scott Gomez at 12:54 of overtime. Zach Parise scored two straight goals to give the Devils a 3-1 lead in the second period. But Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier scored less than two minutes apart to knot the score later in the period.
Martin Brodeur stopped 30 shots for the Devils, who host game five Friday.