Fri, Apr 20, 2007 - Page 23 News List

Rangers advance after four-game sweep of Thrashers

AP , NEW YORK

Nashville Predators goalie Tomas Vokoun of the Czech Republic is beaten for a goal on a shot by San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski in the second period of Game 4 of their first-round NHL hockey playoff series in San Jose, California, on Wednesday.

PHOTO: AP

Matt Cullen banged in a shot off the crossbar and the New York Rangers completed a four-game sweep of the Atlanta Thrashers with a 4-2 victory in the NHL playoffs on Wednesday.

The Rangers reached the second round of the playoffs for the first time in a decade.

Cullen fired a rolling puck from just inside the blue line that smacked the iron and dropped on its side just over the goal line 2:06 into the third period. It withstood a lengthy video review and snapped a tie.

New York, which earned its first home playoff victory since 1997 a day earlier, won a postseason series for the first time since that year.

It was the Rangers' first sweep since the opening round of the 1994 playoffs, the year the Rangers last won the Stanley Cup, and quickly ended the Thrashers' initial venture into the postseason.

Michal Rozsival and Brendan Shanahan wiped out one-goal advantages and put Cullen in position for the game-winner. Jaromir Jagr sealed the victory with an empty-net goal with 1:33 remaining.

Sabres 4, Islanders 2

At Uniondale, New York, Chris Drury scored twice and Ryan Miller made 24 saves to help top-seeded Buffalo take a 3-1 lead in the first-round series.

Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville also scored for Buffalo, in position to end the series in Buffalo today. Jason Blake and Mike Sillinger scored for New York, and Rick DiPietro stopped 27 shots in his third start since returning from a concussion.

Devils 4, Lightning 3, OT

At Tampa, Florida, Scott Gomez zipped the winning goal past Johan Holmqvist with 7:06 left in the extra period and New Jersey tied the Eastern Conference series at two games apiece.

Martin Brodeur had 30 saves for New Jersey, but squandered a two-goal lead in the second period. He has given up 12 goals in four games after entering the postseason with a career 1.89 goals-against average in 153 playoff games.

Sharks 3, Predators 2

At San Jose, California, Milan Michalek scored two goals, Evgeni Nabokov made 23 saves and San Jose took a commanding 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series against Nashville.

Rookie Joe Pavelski also scored his first playoff goal for the Sharks, and Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo had two assists apiece.

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