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Series Tied and Heading To Buffalo

Tuesday, 05.01.2007 / 12:00 AM / News
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Series Tied and Heading To Buffalo

May 1, 2007
by Brian Wheeler

The Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers match-up in the Eastern Conference semifinals is now a best of three series.

New York won their second consecutive game in Madison Square Garden, 2-1, with a pair of power-play goals to even the series two games apiece on Tuesday night.

The Rangers' victory wasn't without controversy. With Ryan Miller on the bench and 17.1 seconds remaining in the game, Daniel Briere dug a puck from the back wall and snapped a wristshot that appeared to cross the goal line before being kicked away by netminder Henrik Lundqvist.

Buffalo's chance of winning Game Four, and the jubilation around Western New York, disappeared when referee Bill McCreary waived his arms and uttered two of the most infamous words in Sabres history, "no goal."

"I was pretty confident that we had a goal," said Ruff. "I've seen a replay where I believe it was in. But the only thing that you hope with video replay is that they get it right. That's why you go to it.

"But reviews are reviews, and we've had some good ones."

Fighting for two wins in three games is not something that Buffalo is a stranger to. Through four games, Buffalo's opening round series against the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2006 playoffs was knotted up. Buffalo took Game Five in HSBC Arena and Game Six in the Wachovia Center to win the series, 4-2.

"It comes down to little things," said Miller, who finished with 26 saves. "We keep saying it, and eventually we've got to deliver on it, is that we can play better."

The silver lining in the Sabres second straight loss is the team's domination in the third period. Playing desperate hockey, Buffalo out shot New York 11-4 in the final frame and possibly created a springboard for Game Five in HSBC Arena on Friday (MSG, 7 p.m.).

"We picked it up in the third, but it was too little, too late," said Ales Kotalik, Buffalo's lone goal scorer. "That's the way we need to play, the way we did in the third period."

New York took the 1-0 lead off a continued hooking penalty from the opening period on Toni Lydman.

Just 45 seconds into the second, Michal Nylander slung a centering pass to Jaromir Jagr, who redirected the feed into the top-left corner of the net for his fourth goal of the playoffs and second of the series.

"If we do a better job earlier, or bury some of the opportunities earlier, it wouldn't have to go to that [review]," said Ruff.

Buffalo's best chance of the opening two periods came in the final moments of the second. Curling back into the offensive zone with the man advantage, Derek Roy rang a slap shot off the post with just 23 seconds remaining that would have tied the score 1-1.

A half a period later, New York expanded their lead to a pair of goals off a Buffalo turnover in their own zone.

Brendan Shanahan collected a loose puck in the slot, and with no Sabre in his vicinity, waited for Miller to commit before snapping a wristshot just inside the right post at 8:31.

"We need a little desperation in our game," said Miller. "Unfortunately, it took two goals. It's a little frustrating just because you can see the guys start to get going. But there are moments where I think we're not doing everything that we can be doing, so we to definitely play the way we did in the third period, minus the goal against."

Finding the back of the net for the first time at even strength since 10:11 of the third period in Game Two, Buffalo pulled to within a goal.

Tim Connolly flung a quick pass from the back wall to the front of the net where Kotalik's one-timer into the top-right corner made the score 2-1 in favor of the Rangers at 9:04.
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Quotes courtesy WGR 550-AM, the official radio partner of the Buffalo Sabres.

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