Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series tied 2-2

Game 1: Saturday, November 2nd
Game 2: Sunday, December 8th
Game 3: Thursday, February 27th
Game 4: Saturday, March 29th

Rangers 3

(32-34-3, 76 pts)

Bruins 1

(35-30-4, 83 pts)

1:30 PM ET, March 29, 2003

TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

1 2 3 T
NYR 1 1 13
BOS 0 1 01

M. Dunham (Rangers - G): Saves: 31, Save Pct.: .969

A. Kovalev (Rangers - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

B. Leetch (Rangers - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Rangers keep Bruins from clinching playoff berth

BOSTON (AP) -- Alexei Kovalev rediscovered his scoring touch. Now, the New York Rangers are hoping to find some help to make the playoffs.

 Alexei Kovalev

Kovalev snapped a nine-game scoreless drought with two goals as the Rangers improved their slim playoff hopes with a 3-1 win over the Boston Bruins on Saturday.

The Rangers, who spoiled Boston's bid to clinch a playoff berth, are four points behind the New York Islanders for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers have four games left, including one against the Islanders on Long Island on Tuesday. The Islanders have five games remaining.

"We took the team out to dinner (Friday) night and they know what is going on," Rangers coach Glen Sather said. "We just have to worry about the game we have next."

Kovalev, acquired from Pittsburgh on Feb. 10, scored his first goal since March 1 and recorded his first multigoal game since the trade.

"All I could do was fight through it," Kovalev said. "It would have been better to have had that slump at the beginning of the season. You just keep playing through it."

Mike Dunham, who wasn't in uniform for New York's loss to Pittsburgh on Wednesday due to a hamstring injury, made 30 saves for the Rangers.

Dunham, who had a pair of shutouts in two of his previous three starts, knows his team needs to play well to make the playoffs.

"There's no room for error," he said. "We feel good (now). It's a roller-coaster ride."

The Bruins, 2-2-1 since general manager Mike O'Connell took over as interim coach after firing Robbie Ftorek on March 19, will earn a postseason berth with their next two points.

"I don't think we had the legs we had (Thursday) night in Philadelphia," O'Connell said. "You have to give the other team credit. They played hard and made the most of their chances."

Brian Leetch had New York's other goal. Joe Thornton scored his 35th for Boston.

The Rangers took a 1-0 with one minute left in the first period when Kovalev took Matthew Barnaby's pass from the left corner and knocked in a shot from the top of the crease.

Kovalev's second goal made it 2-0 midway into the second period. Petr Nedved made a spinning backhand pass to Barnaby, who fed Kovalev in the right circle. Kovalev then one-timed a shot past Steve Shields for his 35th goal.

The Bruins cut it to 2-1 when Thornton converted a two-on-one break with Glen Murray by firing a wrist shot just under the crossbar.

Leetch beat Shields on the stick side with a blistering wrist shot from the right circle for a power-play goal that made it 3-1 early in the third period.

Shields stopped 21 shots.

"You're not going to win scoring one goal in your own barn," Shields said.

Game notes
New York's Mark Messier remained two assists behind former Bruin Ray Bourque for third place on the NHL's career list. ... The teams split the season series, winning two apiece. ... The Rangers have the league's 10th-best power play in home games, but are just 22nd on the road. ... Boston has four games left, with two at home.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press