When the Rangers fell behind by three goals to the Boston Bruins Monday night, they were hearing it from the Garden crowd. By the time the night was over, it was impossible to hear anything over the delirious din.

"That was unbelievable," said Michael Sauer, whose goal with 2:57 left in the third period put the Rangers ahead. "I never scored a goal and it got that loud, that's for sure."

With Vezina Trophy front-runner Tim Thomas coming out of the crease, Sauer, the rookie defenseman, fired from along the goal line, and the puck ticked off the goaltender's left pad and in, 51 seconds after Brandon Dubinsky had tied the game by waiting out Thomas to score from the front of the crease. Derek Stepan sealed the Rangers' 5-3 victory with an empty-net goal with 53 seconds left.

"Down 3-0, we were still pretty positive," said a raspy-voiced Brian Boyle, who assisted on Sauer's game-winner. "We started bringing it, and good things happened. You don't want to get down 3-0, ever, but . . . I'll remember this, probably for the rest of my life. That was a lot of fun."

The victory - sparked by Vinny Prospal goals at 11:34 and 18:26 of the second period, the first coming just 62 seconds after Chris Kelly had given the Bruins a three-goal lead with a wrist shot past Henrik Lundqvist - put the Blueshirts within three points of clinching a playoff spot. If the ninth-place Hurricanes lose to the Red Wings Wednesday night, the Rangers can clinch on Thursday with a win over the Atlanta Thrashers, and avoid last-day drama when the Devils visit the Garden.