(Long Island, NY) Madison Square Garden was ablaze once again on Tuesday night as the Rangers held on for a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres to even their Eastern Conference Semifinals series at two games apiece. After dropping the opening two hard fought contests in Buffalo, the Blueshirts took Sunday’s match in double overtime and followed that up with a close regulation victory.
The Rangers led the latest game 2-0 before the Sabres came right back. Jaromir Jagr (second period) and Brendan Shanahan (third period) had power play tallies before Buffalo’s Ales Kotalik scored only 33 seconds later to cut the lead to one.
Sabres’ captain Daniel Briere had a potential game-tying shot with only 13.4 seconds left in the game kicked out by Rangers’ netminder Henrik Lundqvist that was sent for a long video review. It was determined that the puck did not fully cross the goal line and the Rangers took the two-game set at home. Counting the end of the regular season and first-round sweep against the Atlanta Thrashers, it was their ninth consecutive win and 12th in their last 13 games at the ‘World’s Most Famous Arena.’
“In that situation, you’re handcuffed. You’re at the mercy of the video review,” Rangers’ head coach Tom Renney said on a conference call to the media on Wednesday. “You have to prepare yourself to continue to play with the worst fate possible. Our video people thought it was a no-goal.”
The Rangers’ special teams were very effective, not only scoring twice with the man advantage, but killing off all four power plays that the Sabres’ had.
“We’re working together,” said Renney. “We tried to make their entries a little tougher. We have to continue to work very, very hard.”
Now the Rangers head back up to Buffalo for Game 5 on Friday night. A big shift has occurred in the series since the Sabres led two games to none.
“It’s on behalf of the players more than me,” Renney continued. “I felt as a coach that the guys had it in them (to come back). We just stayed with the game plan. This may be a special story this year.”
Renney also felt that due to the low scoring and effective goal-tending in the series, scoring first would be major. “The goal-tending has been great. Scoring the first goal is important. The bottom line is controlling the puck, controlling the ice. We understand what they’re (Buffalo) capable of doing.
“If you want to move through the playoffs, you have to play in a certain manner,” Renney said. “I truly believe our guys fell they can beat anybody.”