A Look Back at the Rangers' 1994 Stanley Cup Final Game 2 Victory

Sean Hartnett
June 02, 2020 - 11:38 am
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Game 1 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Final dealt the Rangers tough luck. With one minute remaining in regulation, a Martin Gelinas shot trickled past Mike Richter to force overtime. Then, a Brian Leetch shot drilled the crossbar and produced an odd-man rush that culminated in Greg Adams scoring the game-winning goal. Just like that, the Vancouver Canucks and 52-save goaltender Kirk McLean stole Game 1.

McLean would again be hard to beat in Game 2. On this day in Rangers history, the Blueshirts fought back to even the series at 1-1.

A spark can sometimes come from an unexpected source. To this point, defenseman Doug Lidster hadn’t scored in 34 regular season games during the 1993-94 regular season and was still searching for his first goal of the season/playoffs after dressing for three playoff games.

At 6:22 of the first period, Lidster finally snapped his goalless drought. His net-crashing effort gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead. Mike Keenan made the call to replace a youthful Alexander Karpovtsev with the experienced Lidster in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final. The veteran-favoring coach was rewarded for his faith in the former Vancouver defenseman. That said, Karpovtsev was re-inserted into the lineup when a shoulder injury forced Kevin Lowe to miss Game 2.

The Canucks would tie the contest at 14:04 of the first period. Richter lost track of a rebound that followed Cliff Ronning’s spinning effort. Unaware that the puck was sitting on the goal line behind him, Richter was unable to react as Sergio Momesso swept in the loose puck.

Richter responded by playing dialed-in between the pipes for the rest of the game. His save on Pavel Bure in the final moments of the first period would be a sign of things to come. An exciting duel between the Canucks’ 60-goal scorer and the Rangers’ clutch netminder would unfold as the series progressed.

Like Lidster before him, another goal-starved Ranger would regain the Blueshirts’ lead. Glenn Anderson had only scored one goal through the first 17 games of the playoffs. Known for the big-game performances that helped the Edmonton Oilers’ dynasty capture five Stanley Cup championships, Anderson’s blade had gone cold.

While the Rangers were shorthanded near the midway point of the second period, captain Mark Messier charged toward the Vancouver net. As he was hooked by Jeff Brown and poke-checked by McLean, Messier stuck with the play and passed off to Anderson, who slid the puck into an empty net.

As the third period unfolded, the Rangers protected a 2-1 lead and their job became increasingly difficult. Defenseman Sergei Zubov was sent to the dressing room after suffering a bruised sternum. Richter continued to make clutch save after clutch save.

With 11 seconds left in regulation, Richter turned aside a Grade-A chance to deny Martin Gelinas. Leetch backhanded a clearance the length of the ice into Vancouver’s empty net with 4.8 seconds remaining. The Garden crowd let out cheers of relief. Like that, the Rangers evened the series with a 3-1 victory and were off to Vancouver as the series shifted to Pacific Coliseum.

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