Rangers are out!

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The New York Rangers finally won a game Sunday, but Ottawa's victory over Buffalo mathematically elimimated the Rangers from the playoffs.

"We are where we belong. It's very disturbing and disappointing," said Wayne Gretzky. "We should all be embarrassed about it. It's a question of guys fighting for jobs for next year. Everybody better realize that now. After a season like this, not too many guys are in a safe situation."

The season started to go wrong for the Rangers even before it started when they chose to let Mark Messier leave and launched an unsuccesful campaign to sign restricted free agent Joe Sakic. The Avalanche matched the offer and Sakic stayed in Colorado.

Sunday's victory was the Rangers' first in nine games. The team never found any spark or fighting spirit, when it was needed, and was constantly outworked in games throughout the season.

"The Ottawa loss was such a blow, realistically and intellectually that ended it, certainly coming right after the injury to Patty LaFontaine," said Rangers' GM Neil Smith. "Ever since that Ottawa game, no matter how you may not want to admit it at the time, it was pretty grim."

Smith's own situation might not be the steadiest after the season is over. The Rangers' already replaced coach Colin Campbell with John Muckler in February. Missing the playoffs with one of the highest payrolls in the league doesn't do good to any general manager's job security, especially in New York.

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