Rangers Hold Off Sabres, Tie Series 2-2


Wednesday, May 2nd 2007, 7:35 am
By: News On 6


NEW YORK (AP) _ The Buffalo Sabres thought they had a tie game. Instead, it's their series with the New York Rangers that's suddenly all even.

Daniel Briere smacked the puck in the dwindling seconds of the third period Tuesday night. Henrik Lundqvist stretched his right pad as he fell forward and stopped the stuff attempt by the Sabres forward at the right post.

Or did he?

The Sabres said no. The replay officials said yes, or at least as far as they could tell. It all added up to a 2-1 Rangers win, New York's second in a row on home ice, that deadlocked the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series 2-2.

``You guys can make your own judgment on it,'' frustrated Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller said. ``Whatever we say is either going to get us in trouble or not even worth our time. The game is over. They made their ruling and we have to move on.''

Game 5 is Friday back in Buffalo. The Sabres know they'll have to make another trip back to New York for Game 6 on Sunday, something they couldn't have expected after taking a 2-0 series lead at home.

Lundqvist stopped Briere's shot just short of fully crossing the goal line with 17 seconds left. The Sabres got the chance to tie when Lundqvist nearly lingered too long following the puck behind the net.

Both teams had to wait out a lengthy video review for the second straight game.

``What we're looking for is either confirm what the call is on the ice, or we have to have a conclusive picture of the puck being in the net,'' Bob Hall, the supervisor of officials for the series said in a statement. ``It's what we're looking for in this case because the on-ice ruling was no goal.

``We looked and looked and looked. No replay that we have seen shows it definitely crossing the goal line.''

In the only other NHL game of the night, Anaheim took a 3-1 series lead over Vancouver with a 3-2 overtime victory. The other Western Conference semifinal resumes Wednesday when San Jose looks to grab a 3-1 advantage at home against Detroit. Ottawa will try to do the same over New Jersey in the other Eastern series.

On Sunday, Rangers defenseman Karel Rachunek lost a goal when league officials in Toronto used a replay to determine he kicked the puck in. The game went to double overtime, but a major controversy was avoided when the Rangers eventually won.

This time the call went New York's way.

``I guess it was really close,'' Briere said. ``I think they misjudged the one last game. The Rangers' goal should've been a goal. For the sake of all, I hope they made the right call because that wouldn't be good _ two games in a row, two critical goals disallowed.''

Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan scored power-play goals, and Lundqvist made 29 saves to get the Rangers back in the series.

When the Sabres get home they likely will feel the heat from a nervous, title-starved town unwilling to accept anything less than the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

``Maybe we need a little desperation in our game,'' said Miller, who made 26 saves. ``It is a little frustrating because you can see when guys are starting to get things going, but there are moments when we are not doing everything we can be doing.''

Buffalo picked up the pace right after Ales Kotalik cut the Sabres' deficit to 2-1 just 33 seconds after Shanahan's goal. The Sabres stormed for the tying goal during the final 10 minutes and outshot New York 11-4 in the third.

``We played good for 50 minutes, and the last minutes were a headache,'' Jagr said. ``It was awful. We were lucky we won.''

The pressure is back on the Presidents' Trophy winners, who have trailed in the third period in every game but the opener. After scoring an NHL-high 308 goals during the season, the Sabres have been held to five in three games following a 5-2 opening win.

All the questions before the series were whether the Rangers could slow down Buffalo's four fast lines. Now two goals have been enough to win consecutive games.

``In the playoffs there is a lot less chances available and Lundqvist has been really good, also,'' Briere said. ``We just have to keep crashing and we have to keep going hard the way we did in the third period.''

For the first time in five close goal calls in these playoffs, the Sabres didn't benefit from a video review.

``I believe I've seen a replay where it's in,'' said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, sounding just like New York Islanders coach Ted Nolan in the first round. ``We've had some good reviews.''

Jagr scored his fourth of these playoffs and 71st in the postseason in the second period. Shanahan doubled New York's lead in the third.

The Sabres hadn't lost consecutive games since dropping three in a row in regulation from March 7-10. But the Rangers earned their ninth straight win at Madison Square Garden and 12th in 13 games.

``You are not always going to have things go your way. It's not always going to be 4-1,'' Miller said. ``It's certainly not going to always be that you have the lead. You're going to have to battle and claw and scratch.

``Nobody said it was going to be easy.''

Ducks 3, Canucks 2, OT

At Vancouver, British Columbia, Travis Moen scored 2:07 into overtime to complete Anaheim's comeback from two goals down in the third period.

Chris Pronger scored early in the third period and assisted on Teemu Selanne's tying goal with 5:42 left as the Ducks rallied from the 2-0 deficit.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere finished with 24 saves for the Ducks, who can advance to the Western Conference finals for the second time in four seasons Thursday at home.

Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison staked Vancouver to a 2-0 lead.