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 NEW YORK (AP) -Matt Cullen banged in a shot off the crossbar and bounced the New York Rangers into 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 Wednesday night. It withstood a lengthy video review and snapped a tie, and the Rangers completed a four-game sweep of the Atlanta Thrashers with a 4-2 victory.
New York, which earned its first home playoff victory since 1997 a night 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.
Fresh off a 7-0 victory in Game 3 on Tuesday, the Rangers had a much tougher time with goalie Johan Hedberg than Kari Lehtonen. Hedberg stopped 37 shots in a 2-1 loss in Game 2 but Thrashers coach Bob Hartley made the curious decision to go back to Lehtonen, the 4-3 loser in the opener, at Madison Square Garden.
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
UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) - 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 Friday night in Buffalo.
Jason Blake and Mike Sillinger scored for the Islanders, and Rick DiPietro stopped 27 shots in his third start since returning from a concussion.
The Islanders thought they had tied it with 1:42 left after Miller was pushed across the goal line in a big scramble in front. Referee Mike Leggo, positioned behind the goal, immediately waved off the goal and his decision was upheld by replay.
Pominville then beat DiPieto with 1:12 left to seal the victory.
Drury, who also scored twice in Buffalo's Game 1 victory, gave the Sabres a 3-2 lead with a power-play goal 39 seconds into the second period. He scored from the slot off his own rebound after DiPietro and defenseman Tom Poti failed to control the puck.
Devils 4, Lightning 3, OT
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - 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.
Zach Parise scored his fifth and sixth goals of the series for the Devils.
Game 5 is Friday night at New Jersey.
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.
Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Eric Perrin scored the Lightning, who rallied from a 3-1 deficit. Brian Gionta had New Jersey's other goal.

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