NEW YORK - The pressure is back on the Presidents' Trophy winners.
Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan scored power-play goals, and Henrik Lundqvist made 29 saves to lift the New York Rangers to a 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres last night, tying the Eastern Conference semifinal series after four games.
The best-of-seven matchup now shifts back to Buffalo, where the Sabres - the NHL's best team in the regular season - took what seemed to be a commanding two-games-to-none lead in the series. Now they will be feeling the heat from a nervous, title-starved town unwilling to accept anything less than the first Stanley Cup title in franchise history.
The Rangers had to survive a video replay on a save by Lundqvist that the Sabres felt didn't keep the puck out of the net.
Lundqvist dived onto his stomach with 17 seconds left and stopped Daniel Briere's stuff attempt with his right pad as the puck slid on the goal line. For the first time in five close goal calls in these playoffs, the Sabres didn't benefit from a video review.
Nominations. Sid the Kid has two more goalies to beat. Sidney Crosby, the 19-year-old NHL scoring champion from the Pittsburgh Penguins, is a finalist for league MVP in just his second season. After scoring 120 points, Crosby is one of three players vying for the Hart Trophy.
The other two nominees, announced by the NHL yesterday, are a pair of netminders, New Jersey's Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks. Brodeur broke Bernie Parent's 33-year-old record by winning 48 games this season for the Devils. Luongo, in his first season with the Canucks, tied the mark with 47.
Both allowed 171 goals this season. Brodeur did it in 78 games - one shy of Grant Fuhr's single-season record - for a goals-against average of 2.18, while Luongo posted a 2.29 GAA in 76 games.
This year's winner will be announced June 14 in Toronto.
Holmstrom ready to go. Red Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom has been cleared to play tonight in Game 4 against the San Jose Sharks after being sidelined with an eye injury.
Monday's late game
Sharks 2, Red Wings 1
SAN JOSE, Calif. - The Sharks shuffled their lines and upped their intensity midway through the game, yet they owed their Game 3 comeback against Detroit to one constant factor in this postseason.
No matter the opponent or the situation, Joe Thornton has erased his reputation as a playoff underachiever.
Jonathan Cheechoo scored a power-play goal with 6 minutes, 21 seconds to play, and Thornton made life miserable for the Red Wings, leading San Jose from behind. The Sharks now have a two-games-to-one lead in the Western Conference series.