The 1994 Stanley Cup Finals was truly one of the most memorable championship series in the NHL. The finals saw the Eastern Conference Champions, New York Rangers take on the Western Conference Champions, Vancouver Canucks. The series went seven games, with New York winning four games to three. This was the 10th appearance for the Rangers in the Cup and the second for the Canucks. This victory also marked the fourth in franchise history for the Rangers. In addition, the Rangers ended their 54-year championship drought by winning game seven.
Mark Messier is a true ice-hockey icon and legend. As the Captain of the Rangers from 1991-1997, he led the team into the 1994 playoffs with the best record in the League. The path to the Stanley Cup saw the Rangers sweep their cross-town rivals, the Islanders. They then edged out the Washington Capitals to advance to the Eastern Conference Championships. However, the Rangers met stiff competition by way of the New Jersey Devils. In fact, New York was down three games to two as they headed into a crucial game six.
It was then when Mark Messier publicly guaranteed a victory. This was reminiscent of when Joe Namath guaranteed a Super Bowl III victory back in 1969. The announcement had the sports media and fans in a frenzy. While many doubted Messier’s ability to live up to his word, he proved his detractors wrong. In fact, Messier scored a third-period hat trick to win game six! The Rangers then took game seven — courtesy of Stephane Matteau’s double-overtime goal. This was his second double-overtime goal of the series, and the Rangers moved on to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Rangers met equally as stiff competition from the Canucks in the Stanley Cup Finals. In fact, the series was tied 3-3 as both team headed into game seven. This was somewhat similar to game six of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. New York took an early lead by two goals to none. However, Canucks Team Captain Trevor Linden rebounded with an early goal in the second period. Messier then answered with the third — and game-winning — goal for the Rangers — only to see Linden score again in the third.
The rest of the game was truly nail-biting for Rangers and Canucks fans. Nathan Lafayette almost tied the game for the Canucks, but when the smoke cleared, it was the Rangers that captured the Stanley Cup in what was truly a memorable series and season!
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