Final OT

Series (Game 3 of 5)

New York leads 2-1

Game 1: Saturday, November 23rd
Game 2: Tuesday, January 21st
Game 3: Monday, March 3rd
Game 4: Monday, March 17th
Game 5: Tuesday, April 1st

Islanders 1

(30-24-2, 71 pts)

Rangers 1

(27-31-2, 65 pts)

8:00 PM ET, March 3, 2003

Madison Square Garden, New York, New York

1 2 3 OT T
NYI 0 1 0 01
NYR 0 0 1 01

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

M. Dunham (Rangers - G): Saves: 36, Save Pct.: .973

J. Blake (Islanders - LW): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

Islanders let late lead slip to a 1-1 tie with Rangers

NEW YORK (AP) -- Brian Leetch's end-to-end scoring rush late in the third period was every bit as desperate as the New York Rangers' playoff drive, but oh so much smoother.

Brian Leetch
New York Rangers
37 7 15 22 5 14

Leetch took control of a rebound from teammate Mike Dunham, then carried the puck the length of the ice to give the Rangers a 1-1 tie with the New York Islanders and a much-needed point in the standings Monday night.

The ninth-place Rangers are trying to make a late surge and reach the postseason for the first time since 1997. They trail eighth-place Boston by two points for the last spot in the Eastern Conference with only 13 games remaining. Boston lost Monday, but has four games in hand.

''We wanted two points,'' Leetch said. ''To be down halfway through the third and to tie it up, we certainly feel better about it than if they came back to tie us.''

Leetch's goal came with 7:11 left in regulation. He got the rebound of Jason Blake's shot, skated up ice, stick-handled around defenseman Mattias Timander in the slot, and backhanded a shot over the glove of Garth Snow.

''I've seen him do those things on TV,'' said Dunham, who thought he deserved an assist on the unassisted goal. ''I'm glad to see his number on the back rather than his emblem coming toward me.''

Leetch has at least one point in seven of 10 games since returning from an ankle sprain that caused him to miss 31 contests.

''I certainly had some things go right for me,'' Leetch said.

In the victory Saturday over Florida, Leetch made two fine moves to elude two players as he moved to the slot from the blue line and scored. Rangers coach Glen Sather was equally impressed by both goals.

''It was spectacular,'' Sather said of the latest effort. ''He's played as well as I've ever seen anyone play. He's outstanding.''

Snow was denied his second shutout in six starts after it appeared Dave Scatchard's second-period goal would stand up.

''I actually thought he might pass it,'' Snow said of Leetch. ''I thought he might read the play better and make the pass. I think he did pretty well.''

Snow saved his best work for the closing minutes of the third period, when he made two of his 34 saves on shots from in close.

''It was really intense from the beginning,'' Snow said. ''We realize they are a desperate hockey team.''

Pavel Bure had a chance to win it for the Rangers with 1:21 left in overtime, but he whiffed twice at the right post, allowing Snow to cover up.

The Rangers recorded 47 shots in each of their previous two games, both victories at the start of a five-game homestand. They have had just one three-game winning streak this season and are on a 4-1-2 run.

Snow has been superb in taking over as the Islanders' No. 1 goalie after Chris Osgood sprained his ankle in the previous game against the Rangers on Jan. 21, a 5-0 defeat. He is 4-1-3 in his past eight games and 8-4-3 since Osgood got hurt.

Snow has allowed more than two goals only three times in those 15 games for the Islanders, who tied Tampa Bay for sixth place.

In the New York-New York series, the road team has been dominant and gone 2-0-1 this season. The visitors are 12-2-2 in the past 16 games, with the Islanders holding a 6-1-2 mark in that span in Madison Square Garden, including 1-0-1 this season.

''You never want to see a tie, but Leetch is one of the best,'' Scatchard said. ''We're playing in the best league in the world and you're going to see plays like that.''

Scatchard finished off a bit of a ragged play with a solid goal, his 21st to match a career high.

Jason Wiemer rocketed a shot that hit the glass hard behind Dunham. The puck kicked around before Blake got it and made a clean pass to an unchecked Scatchard. He ripped in a shot from in front of the crease 5:41 into the second period.

''They left me out in front alone and I just yelled for it as loud as I could,'' Scatchard said. ''Blake put it right on my tape.''

Dunham finished with 36 saves.

Game notes

It was the third time in five games the Islanders blew a third-period lead. They are 1-0-2 in those games. ... This pregame warmup was uneventful. In the last meeting, the teams nearly came to blows twice as they skated near center ice. Both clubs were fined $25,000 and sternly warned not to repeat the actions. ... Scatchard also scored 21 goals for the Islanders two seasons ago. ... Rangers defenseman Vladimir Malakhov bruised his left shoulder in the first period and didn't return.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press