Sauer's first goal at MSG proves to be the game winner

NEW YORK—As the Rangers kept slicing into the Bruins lead Monday night, defenseman Michael Sauer noticed the once-angry crowd coming alive. One goal by one goal, as the Rangers erased a 3-0 lead and tied the game late in the third period, the boos turned into the cheers and the excitement started building.

Then, with less than three minutes left, Sauer, whose goals come few and far between, made the noise in the building reach a feverish pitch with the go-ahead score. He certainly noticed the fans showering him with love.

“That was unbelievable, I have never scored a goal and it’s got that loud, that’s for sure,” Sauer said. “The boys were excited and the fans were nuts and that’s what it’s all about, getting those two points.”

Sauer’s go-ahead goal proved to be the winning tally as the Rangers rallied from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Bruins 5-3 Monday night at Madison Square Garden. Sauer, in his second year, scored the first goal of his young career at Madison Square Garden.

“It was (special) definitely in a big game like that,” Sauer said. “We got down early and we just we had to keep fighting and keep clawing back and we had to take it one period at a time and we won the second period which gave us a lot of confidence going into the third and we just knew if we kept pushing we’d get the tying goal and we kept pushing and kept going from there.

Coming into tonight’s game, Sauer had scored just two goals in his career, both on the road. As a defenseman, he’s not counted on to be an offensive spark plug for the Rangers, but he still didn’t know the feeling to hear all of Madison Square Garden cheering for him after a goal.

After the Rangers tied the game at 3-3, the Rangers kept pushing toward the Boston goal, trying to get the go-ahead goal in an unlikely rally. Sauer saw a battle for the puck behind the net so he closed in on the slot area to see if the puck might pop into his area. He went to the backdoor to see if a shot went on net that he could possibly scored on a rebound.

When he corralled the puck, he saw that bad angle and wanted to pass the puck through or for it to be on net, and the puck somehow beat standout goalie Tim Thomas, barely passing the line, giving the Rangers a 4-3 edge with 2:57 left in the game. His goal came just 51 seconds after the game-tying goal by Brandon Dubinsky.

“Michael Sauer, we have talked about him all year long, he reads plays in our end zone. He was good all night long,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said. “It is another kid scoring a huge goal so it is great experience for him. In the playoffs, that is a great experience for him.”

While Sauer certainly filled the role as the unlikely hero in this win, he credited the team’s leaders for keeping the team focused during the game and keep the team focused on the task at hand, even with the Rangers down 3-0 more than halfway through the second period.

That leadership paid off, with the Rangers winning arguably their biggest game of the season. And it wouldn’t have happened without the play of a defenseman who was still searching for a goal in his home building.

“It was a big game, no doubt, and anytime you can win like that this time of season it brings the boys together and it brings the team together,” Sauer said. “That’s going to be big this time moving forward.”