Over the next couple of weeks, with the help of newspaper archives, videos and our own recollections, we’ll reminisce here about the postseason run by the 1994 Rangers, who ended a historic drought by winning the team’s first Stanley Cup since 1940. The Rangers lost Game 1 of the Finals to Vancouver in overtime, stymied by Canucks goalie Kirk McLean. That made Game 2 a must win for the Rangers. The game was played 20 years ago today
The Rangers would jump out to a lead in the first period, when little-used defenseman Doug Lidster (who drew attention for his facial resemblance to comedian Jerry Seinfeld) came down on a rush and scored as he crashed hard into McLean at the net.
The Canucks would tie it a few minutes later, and the score stood even at one heading into the second period.
Rangers forward Glenn Anderson scored the go-ahead goal in the second, but it was captain Mark Messier who made the play happen, creating an empty-net tap-in for his former Edmonton Oilers teammates, on a hard rush down the ice. McLean would poke the puck away, but Messier would recover it and find his mate streaking with him on a cut to the net.
The score stayed 2-1 for most of the rest of the game, though the Canucks had chances aplenty, hitting the goalpost three times in the game.
Vancouver would get one last chance in the final seconds, but Rangers goalie Mike Richter would deflect a pass through the crease to Brian Leetch. The Rangers defenseman would send the puck the length of the ice for an empty-net goal, one that clinched the win and tied the series, 1-1.
“The similarities were striking. The consequences, for the Rangers, were frightening.
For 59 minutes, Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals between the Rangers and Vancouver Canucks was a near replay of Game 1. Could it happen again? Could the Rangers outplay the Canucks, blow a one-goal lead in the final minute and lose in overtime as they had in Game 1?
Not this time.”
Viv Bernstein, Hartford Courant
“In the end, a puck hitting three crossbars and a post were simply the sounds of silence for the Vancouver Canucks ...”
-- Brian Hanley, Chicago Sun-Times
Quote of the Day
-- How Rangers coach Mike Keenan described the win (as noted in the Philadelphia Inquirer), a reference to how the Canucks beat the Rangers in overtime in Game 1, moments after a Rangers shot hit the goalpost.
Stats to Know
Lidster did not score a goal for the Rangers in 34 games with them during the regular season. The Elias Sports Bureau noted that Lidster isn’t the only player from that series to score after not scoring a goal during the regular season -- Bret Hedican did it for the Canucks. Since then, two players have done this -- Ken Daneyko for the 2000 Devils and Justin Abdelkader for the 2009 Red Wings.
Anderson, a longtime star for the Edmonton Oilers, would finish his career with 93 playoff goals, a total that still ranks fifth-best all-time.
The win was the first home win for the Rangers in the Stanley Cup finals since May 4, 1972, when they beat the Bruins, 5-2. They had lost their last four home games in the Finals.
You can read the rest of this series here.