NEW YORK - One section of sold-out Madison Square Garden was pulling for the also-ran Ottawa Senators against the playoff hopeful New York Rangers.
Ryan Shannon's fan club sure went home happy.
Shannon, a 26-year-old, third-year NHLer from Darien, Conn., snapped a tie in the third period and gave the surging Senators a 2-1 win over the Rangers on Sunday night.
After shaking off nerves in the first period in front of 25-30 friends and family members, Shannon scored his fifth goal to give Ottawa its ninth win in 10 games.
"It was a relief," Shannon said. "I wanted to do something for all my friends and family. For all the sacrifices that they've made, they deserved to get some payback even if they were the only people in the building rooting for Ottawa. It was a dream come true."
With only 10 games remaining, the Senators' playoff dreams are faint at best. Ottawa (32-30-10) is 11th in the Eastern Conference, three spots and seven points behind Montreal and the playoff cutoff.
Mike Comrie returned from a three-game absence caused by the flu, and Alex Auld made 28 saves in a rare start for the Senators.
Ottawa started a six-game road trip with a fourth straight win. The Senators have only three home games left.
"You lose one game here and there, and mathematically you could be out of it," captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "Our approach is to just win every game and keep this positive thing going."
Auld gave rookie Brian Elliott the night off, one day after he earned his eighth consecutive win by beating the New York Islanders at home.
Auld, starting for the third time in 12 games, allowed Brandon Dubinsky's first goal in 24 games in the first period, but was perfect the rest of the way in improving to 3-0-2 against the Rangers. The teams split the four-game season series.
"After the little bit of a miscue we had on the first goal, I thought (Auld) was our best player," Senators coach Cory Clouston said. "He played very well and looked composed and was very deserving of the win."
Auld made three consecutive saves against Markus Naslund at the right post with 2:54 remaining to win for the first time since Feb. 24.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 20 shots, but the Rangers' three-game winning streak overall and four-game home spurt were broken.
"It clearly wasn't our night," Rangers captain Chris Drury said. "There are going to be times when you don't have it. The key is how you respond to it and bounce back."
The Rangers went 0-for-5 on the power play and missed a chance to jump from seventh to fifth in the East. They are three points ahead of Montreal with nine games left.
"Even though we weren't at our best, we are in the third period 1-1 and we needed to win that period, and we didn't," coach John Tortorella said. "We are going to have a short-term memory and go back to work."
Shannon put Ottawa in front 2-1 at 1:09 of the third after Rangers forward Scott Gomez turned over the puck to Mike Fisher at the Senators' blue-line. Fisher sent a pass to Nick Foligno, who carried the puck into the Rangers end and dropped it back to Shannon for the goal.
Dubinsky netted his first goal since Jan. 27 thanks to the hustle of linemate Ryan Callahan. After a turnover at centre ice, Sean Avery flung the puck into the Ottawa zone. Auld went behind his net to cut off the dump-in, but Callahan got the puck after Auld fumbled it and sent a pass in front to Dubinsky, who snapped a shot in at 2:18 before the goalie could get repositioned.
"The last month and half we've shown a real resiliency after giving up first goals or tough goals, and bouncing back from that," Auld said. "Both for myself and for the team, that was big."
Dubinsky thrust both arms in the air as a sign of celebration and relief for his ninth goal this season, and flashed a wide smile as he received a line of high-fives while skating in front of the New York bench.
Comrie tied it 6:09 into the second. Comrie's shot was blocked by defenceman Dan Girardi. Comrie got to the loose puck in the slot and sent a backhander through traffic and past Lundqvist for his 10th goal of the season and third in 12 games since being traded to Ottawa by the Islanders.
Notes: Callahan stretched his points streak to six games (four goals, four assists). He had two goals in Saturday's 5-3 win over Buffalo. ... The Rangers scored first for the sixth straight game. ... Rangers D Michal Rozsival appeared to injure his left leg when hit by Ottawa's Shean Donovan early in the second period and didn't return. ... D Chris Campoli, acquired with Comrie, earned an assist on Comrie's goal for his ninth point in 15 games with Ottawa (three goals, six assists).