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Sabres 2, Rangers 1, OT @NHLdotcom

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -Benched one game, the overtime star the next: Maxim Afinogenov sure knows how to make up for miscues.

Afinogenov scored a power-play goal 4:39 into overtime to cap Buffalo's come-from-behind 2-1 win over the New York Rangers on Friday night, moving the Sabres within a win of the Eastern Conference finals.

"Definitely happy," Afinogenov said. "We're up right now. It's a happy day for us."

Leave it to co-captain Chris Drury - who forced overtime by scoring with under 8 seconds remaining - to put Afinogenov's performance into perspective.

"It's a great story, the highs and lows of playoff hockey," Drury said. "He's pretty down the other night as we all were and comes back with obviously a huge goal."

Buffalo rebounded from two straight 2-1 losses to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series, which resumes in New York on Sunday. And the top-seeded Sabres were rewarded for producing their most complete game of the postseason by finally finding a way to beat goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Drury's goal, off a rebound in front, came on Buffalo's 37th shot. Afinogenov's slap shot from inside the blue line sneaked through the goalie's legs as teammate Thomas Vanek provided a screen in front.

He scored 11 seconds after Blair Betts was penalized for hooking Afinogenov, who was driving to the net from the left circle.

The Rangers were outshot 40-23, but took a 1-0 lead when Martin Straka scored with 3:19 left in regulation.

"That hurts," Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr said. "There's no question about it. That's probably the toughest for me in 5 years."

It's now the Rangers turn to respond in a series in which the home team has won each game.

"It's a tough loss, plain and simple," coach Tom Renney said. "We weren't close to being the better team on the ice tonight. It was close for one reason, and that was our goaltender."

Lundqvist was spectacular in frustrating a Sabres team that had scored an NHL-leading 308 goals.

He foiled Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere on one-timers twice in the first period.

Lundqvist's most impressive save came 8 minutes into the third period when he got his blocker up to stop Tim Connolly's hard snap shot from the slot. He then quickly covered the rebound before Ales Kotalik could get to it.

"It's a tough one," Lundqvist said over and over again. "They made a good play at the end and it paid off. You can't think too much about this. You have to move on."

Drury's goal came on a scramble in front and after Lundqvist stopped Connolly's shot from the left point. The rebound caromed directly to Drury, who snapped it into the open side from the lower left circle.

Miller was sharp, too, in stopping 22 shots. His best saves came in overtime when he blocked Brendan Shanahan's redirection from in close during a Rangers power play at 1:18. A minute later, Miller snagged Karel Rachunek's blast from the left point.

New York had a goal disallowed with 7:46 remaining in regulation when Michael Nylander beat Miller, but referee Don VanMassenhoven immediately waved it off and issued Rangers forward Brad Isbister a penalty for goalie interference.

It was a fortunate break for the Sabres, after Briere had a potential tying goal disallowed in the final seconds of a 2-1 loss in Game 4, when video replays were inconclusive in determining whether his shot crossed the goal line.

Afinogenov's goal was indisputable, and he celebrated by taking a swan dive at center ice.

"I just wanted to celebrate and nothing was coming in my head, so I just dove," Afinogenov said.

And he had no hard feelings regarding his benching. Coach Lindy Ruff sat Afinogenov, believing the dynamic forward was forcing the play and, as a result, creating too many turnovers.

"I can't be angry. Definitely, I want to be there, help the guys and help the team," Afinogenov said. "But there's nothing I can do. They tell me I'm not playing, I'm not playing."

Notes: The Rangers went 0-for-7 on the power play. Five of their nine goals this series have come during an advantage. ... Sabres C Paul Gaustad returned after missing 35 games due to a sliced tendon above his left ankle. ... The Sabres sat out rookie forward Drew Stafford, who had two goals and two assists in nine playoff games, and Daniel Paille, who played his first game this postseason Tuesday to make room for Afinogenov and Gaustad. ... The Rangers have lost five straight at Buffalo, including two in the regular season.

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