Rangers
Sabres
1 - 2 Final - OT
  for this game

Afinogenov's OT goal gives Sabres semifinal series lead

May 5, 2007 - 4:40 AM
BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- Co-captain Chris Drury gave the Buffalo Sabres life. Maxim Afinogenov gave them a pivotal victory.

Drury scored with eight seconds remaining in the third period and Afinogenov netted a power-play goal at 4:39 of overtime, giving the Sabres a 2-1 triumph over the New York Rangers on Friday and a three-games-to-two lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Ryan Miller made 22 saves for Buffalo, which can advance to the conference finals for the second straight year with a win at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

"I'm always looking forward to tomorrow and I can't really remember what happened yesterday," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "So this one's sweet. I've said these guys have answered the bell all year long. ... There's not much more I can say."

Despite the disappointing loss, New York believes it still has a chance to win the series.

"We've been playing very well for two months now, so we are encouraged wherever we play," Rangers coach Tom Renney said. "The fact of the matter is that we are going home and hope to play well."

"We've been right there, the whole series, in every game," New York's Brendan Shanahan added. "It's been a hard-fought series. There's no reason for us to feel we can't go out and get right back on the winning side of this."

After throwing everything they had at Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist for more than 59 minutes, the Sabres appeared on their way to becoming the first team to lose a home game in the series.

"I thought we did a great job," Miller said. "Maybe tonight we deserved the bounces, where in New York, we had opportunities to tie the game and get back in it. Maybe we didn't quite deserve to win those two games there, but we definitely deserved to win tonight."

Lundqvist turned aside the first 36 shots he faced, including 17 in the second period, before Buffalo broke through in the waning seconds of the third session.

"We just hung in there," Drury said. "Obviously, we had a lot of chances, a lot of shots. It took us the whole 60 minutes to finally break through."

Thomas Vanek's slap shot from the top of the left faceoff circle was stopped by Lundqvist, but Drury fired the rebound past the Swedish netminder from the bottom of the circle with eight seconds to go, knotting the contest at 1-1 and sparking a deflated sellout crowd at HSBC Arena.

"It's kind of a bang-bang play," said Drury, who has scored 41 career playoff goals. "It was just a rebound. It happened so fast, you really don't have time to think twice about it."

Drury nearly went from hero to goat early in overtime, as he was called for hooking 27 seconds into the extra session. But New York's top-ranked power play was unable to get any quality chances, mustering just two shots on goal that Miller easily stopped.

The Rangers, who entered with a 23.3 percent (10-for-43) success rate with the man advantage, went 0-for-7 in Game Five.

Buffalo got a power-play chance of its own at 4:28, when Blair Betts was sent to the penalty box for hooking. Unlike the Rangers, the Sabres made the most of their opportunity.

"I'd say it was a pretty soft call on Blair Betts," Shanahan said. "I'm sure he feels really bad about the play. It was a make-up call, pretty soft."

A healthy scratch for Game Four after failing to record a point in the first three contests in the series, Afinogenov moved from above the right circle to the middle of the zone and unleashed a slap shot that found its way past a crowd and between Lundqvist's pads, giving Buffalo an impressive comeback victory and the chance to close out New York on Sunday.

"I think (defenseman Dmitri Kalinin) had the puck by the blue line," Afinogenov said. "He goes toward the middle, passed it to me. I just tried to shoot the puck. Guys were screening the goalie and it went in. ... It's probably the biggest goal of my career."

"He got the biggest hug from me in the runway," Ruff said. "I was really excited for him. It was awesome."

Afinogenov admitted he was not happy being scratched but also was not bitter.

"I can't be angry," he said. "Definitely, I want to be in there. I want to help the guys, help the team. ... I just tried to do my part during the game - skate, shoot the puck, create some chances for the guys, create chances for myself."

Despite being screened, Lundqvist confirmed the puck hit someone in front before getting past him.

"Unfortunately, the shot hit our guy and the game is over," he said.

The tally was the second of the postseason for Afinogenov, who also scored the series-clinching goal against the New York Islanders in Game Five of their conference quarterfinals matchup.

"It was great to see (Afinogenov) get it," Miller said.

Buffalo came out strong and never let up against Lundqvist, who made spectacular save after spectacular save to keep his team in the game. The Vezina Trophy finalist did his best work against Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere, who failed to get any of his nine shots past Lundqvist, including a one-timer from the left circle just 38 seconds into the contest.

Afinogenov also had a good chance to get the Sabres on the scoreboard in the second period, but Lundqvist denied his slap shot at 7:41.

Miller also made some big saves, stopping Betts on a pair of shorthanded opportunities in the third. He also was helped by Rangers left wing Brad Isbister, whose goalie interference penalty at 12:14 of the period negated Michael Nylander's apparent goal.

The Rangers finally got to Miller with 3:17 to go, as Martin Straka carried the puck into the offensive zone and fired a quick, hard snap shot under the All-Star goalie's right arm and into the net.

Referee Don Van Massenhoven initially waved off the tally, but replays showed the puck hitting the camera in the back of the net and bouncing out, something the video replay officials confirmed after a brief review.

Even though his team was just seconds away from victory, Renney admitted Buffalo was the far superior club Friday.

"We are not going to win too many games playing a B game, and the next time we give an opportunity like this to an opponent, the series is over," he said. "We know we can play much better. ... We weren't close to being the better team on the ice. We won't try to hide behind any excuses. It was close for one reason, and that was because of our goaltender."

Shanahan concurred with his coach.

"We felt we didn't play our best game in the series," he said. "Probably our weakest game of the series overall, and yet we were right there in a position to win. We think we can be better, and we'll have to be better for Game Six."






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  • jtlynchjr I didn't get to root for this game until too late because of personal investment in the result, but it was a heck of a furious last few minutes of the third and first five of overtime.

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  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL FINAL IN OT 1ST 2ND 3RD OT TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    NY RANGERS 0 0 1 0 1
    BUFFALO 0 0 1 1 2 FINAL IN OT
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: 2ND PRD: 3RD PRD: NYR - MARTIN STRAKA 2 (DAN GIRARDI, BRENDAN SHANAHAN) 16:41
    BUF - CHRIS DRURY 6 (THOMAS VANEK, TIM CONNOLLY) 19:52 (WITH
    EXTRA ATTAC

    May 4 9:57 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL NY RANGERS 1
    BUFFALO 2
    OT: BUF - (PP) MAXIM AFINOGENOV 2 (JASON POMINVILLE, DMITRI
    KALININ) 4:39

    May 4 9:57 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL NY RANGERS 1
    BUFFALO 2
    OT: BUF - (PP) MAXIM AFINOGENOV 2 (JASON POMINVILLE, DMITRI
    KALININ) 4:39

    Rangers vs. SabresMay 4 9:57 PM
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  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL END OF THE 3RD GOING INTO OT
    1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NY RANGERS 0 0 1 1
    BUFFALO 0 0 1 1 GOING INTO OT
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: NONE
    3RD PRD: NYR - MARTIN STRAKA 2 (DAN GIRARDI, BRENDAN SHANAHAN) 16:41
    BUF - CHRIS DRURY 6 (THOMAS VANEK, TIM CONNOLLY) 19:52 (WITH
    EXTRA ATTACKER)
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST

    May 4 9:33 PM


  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL NY RANGERS 1
    BUFFALO 1
    3RD PRD: BUF - CHRIS DRURY 6 (THOMAS VANEK, TIM CONNOLLY) 19:52 (WITH
    EXTRA ATTACKER)

    Rangers vs. SabresMay 4 9:33 PM
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  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL NY RANGERS 1
    BUFFALO 0
    3RD PRD: NYR - MARTIN STRAKA 2 (DAN GIRARDI, BRENDAN SHANAHAN) 16:41

    Rangers vs. SabresMay 4 9:28 PM
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  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NY RANGERS 0 0 0
    BUFFALO 0 0 0 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NYR 8 6 14
    BUF 7 17 24
    GOALIES: NYR - HENRIK LUNDQVIST
    BUF - RYAN MILLER

    May 4 8:36 PM
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  • PLAYOFFS
    NHL END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NY RANGERS 0 0
    BUFFALO 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    NYR 8 8
    BUF 7 7
    GOALIES: NYR - HENRIK LUNDQVIST
    BUF - RYAN MILLER

    May 4 7:44 PM