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Rangers 5, Sabres 4, SO @NHLdotcom

NEW YORK (AP) - Henrik Lundqvist heard the cheers before the lights brightened the ice for the third period.

Fans grew tired of backup goalie Kevin Weekes and were frustrated that the New York Rangers appeared on the verge of a third straight loss.

The roar began as Lundqvist led his teammates out of the tunnel, grew louder when he was announced into the game, and was deafening when he blanked the Buffalo Sabres in a shootout Monday night that gave the Rangers a rousing 5-4 victory.

"We needed a lift. We were kind of dead," said Jaromir Jagr, who really brought the crowd to life.

Jagr supplied the historic offense that earned the Rangers two critical points in the standings. He had a goal and assist in the third period to tie the Rangers' records for goals and points in a season.

He set up Petr Sykora's power-play goal at 3:19 that cut the Rangers' deficit to 4-3, then tied it with 9:44 remaining in regulation.

Jagr's 52nd goal equaled Adam Graves' mark set in the 1993-94 season and was his 109th point - tying Jean Ratelle's record that stood for 34 years.

"It's a big satisfaction," said Jagr, the NHL scoring leader who has nine goals and eight assists in a nine-game point streak. "Look at all the great players here in the past 80 years."

It was the third straight time the Rangers went to a shootout and the first time they won in the four-day span. New York was 5-1 in the NHL's new tiebreaker before dropping three straight - including two in a row in weekend road losses to the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Lundqvist took the defeat Saturday against the Lightning but bounced back to tie the Rangers' mark for wins by a rookie with 29. He stopped five shots in the third, three more in overtime, and then turned aside Daniel Briere, Maxim Afinogenov, and Derek Roy in the shootout to send Buffalo to its season-high, sixth straight loss.

"When you jump into a game like this and you are down two goals, you have nothing to lose," Lundqvist said.

Sykora scored on New York's first attempt in the tiebreaker, giving him four shootout goals in six tries. That was enough to push the Rangers back into first place alone in the Atlantic Division, two points in front of Philadelphia with 10 games remaining. The Flyers will play 11.

This one was looking like another loss for the Rangers, who entered on a 3-5-4 slide, before Jagr and Lundqvist took over.

Jagr flipped a quick pass from the right-wing boards to Sykora who one-timed a shot past Ryan Miller. Then Jagr punched in a shot from the right post to tie it.

The Rangers had several chances to win late in regulation and in overtime as the Sabres were called for three penalties in a 6:21 span and then another 34 seconds into the extra session.

Jagr kept firing from his spot above the right circle but couldn't beat Miller or the goal post. He recorded nine shots, including five in the final 25 minutes.

New York was 2-for-10 on the power play. Buffalo went 2-for-4.

"We had some big kills and it was a big point but it's disappointing," forward J.P. Dumont said.

Lundqvist turned aside Dumont's breakaway chance in overtime to get the Rangers into the shootout.

"Absolutely unbelievable," Rangers coach Tom Renney said. "This is a big, big game and Henrik goes in and nails it."

Briere was on his way to being the star of the game with a goal and two assists, but Buffalo instead fell to 28-1-3 when leading after two periods.

Briere set up Chris Drury's man-advantage goal in the first, but Martin Straka scored a power-play goal and Sandis Ozolinsh tallied 2:20 later to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead.

Dumont tied it just 1:55 into the second, and Jason Pominville and Briere added goals to make it 4-2. Miller finished with 31 saves for Buffalo, which scored only 10 goals in the first five losses on the skid while giving up 21.

Weekes, who made 40 regulation saves in losing to Florida on Friday, was yanked after giving up four goals on 23 shots to Buffalo - three on 13 in the second.

The Rangers are looking to reach the playoffs for the first time since 1997 and they want to do it by way of a division title. If not, they likely will face Buffalo in the opening round without home-ice advantage.

That doesn't bode well for New York, 2-2 against the Sabres this season and 4-7 in the last 11 meetings. The Rangers haven't beaten Buffalo in regulation since Dec. 12, 2003.

Notes: The Sabres hadn't lost six consecutive games since a seven-game slide in December 2003. ... Rangers D Darius Kasparaitis skated Monday morning but missed his fourth straight game with a groin injury.

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