For a little while the Skipjacks made scoring goals look almost too easy.
As it turned out, defeating Binghamton Saturday night at the Arena was every bit as difficult as it looked on the pre-game drawing board.
The inconsistent Jacks somehow managed to squander a 4-0 first-period lead, allowing the Rangers to tie the game 5-5 by the middle of the third period.
It took a Chris Felix slap shot past goalie Sam St. Laurent with 6:42 left to stave off elimination for the Jacks and earn a 6-5 victory and another chance at the Rangers in Binghamton on Wednesday. The Jacks trail 3-1 in the AHL Southern Division best-of-seven semifinal series.
"It certainly doesn't look good that we lost a four-goal lead and let them back in the game but we'll take the win," said Jacks coach Robbie Laird.
Laird viewed the film of the game again yesterday and said he wasn't totally disheartened by his team's performance.
"It's easy to say that we let up and played defensive hockey but we actually out-chanced them over the last two periods," Laird said. "We had a couple of defensive mistakes and they clicked on the power play. That made the difference in the game."
Laird said his team's morale is not deflated by the Rangers' stunning comeback.
"We hung in there at the end when it didn't look good and we had what it took to keep the series alive," Laird said. "Now all we need to focus on is going into Binghamton and getting another win. We want to bring the series back here."
A Jacks' victory in Binghamton Wednesday would bring Game 6 back to the Arena on Friday. A seventh game, if necessary, would be in New York on Saturday.
"We've got some guys clicking offensively for a change," Laird said. "Alfie Turcotte played well up front and Rob Murray and Jeff Greenlaw were hitting everyone they saw in the offensive zone. We have our backs to the wall but we've responded well once."
Turcotte scored twice and Ken Lovsin and Tyler Larter also scored for the Jacks.
Rangers goalie Mark Laforest, who looked seemingly invincible in the first three games of the series, was nailed for all four of the Jacks' first-period goals before being pulled during the intermission for three-time Calder Cup winner St. Laurent.
Binghamton coach John Paddock said he would wait until game time on Wednesday to announce the starter for Game 5.