Remembering '94: Game 3

Glenn Cratty/Getty Images

Pavel Bure was the center of attention in Game 3 .Over the next couple of weeks, 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 rolled through the first two rounds of the playoffs, going 8-1, but ran into a roadblock in the conference finals against a New Jersey Devils team they’d beaten six times in six games in the regular season. They won that series to set up a meeting with a Cinderella team, the Vancouver Canucks, who upset the Toronto Maple Leafs to advance to the Cup Finals.

The Canucks won Game 1, but the Rangers eked out a win in Game 2. Game 3 would turn on a key call. With the help of newspaper and video archives, we remember the game played 20 years ago today.

The Details

Back at home in Vancouver, the Canucks came out flying, as Pavel Bure scored on a breakaway, going five-hole to beat Mike Richter a minute into the game (Bure would try a different move in a notable moment the next game).

Up to that point, Canucks goalie Kirk McLean had played spectacularly in the series. But that turned when the Rangers scored a fluke goal to tie it, when a Brian Leetch shot from the point that was going wide hit McLean’s stick and took a sharp turn into the net.

The turning point of this game was when Bure got a bit overeager, and slammed his elbow and stick into Rangers defenseman Jay Wells’ face. Bure got hit with a five-minute major and a game misconduct. This was a huge loss for the Canucks as Bure was the NHL leader in goals that season with 60 (he would net 16 more in the playoffs).

From then on, the Rangers were in total control. A redirection by Glenn Anderson shortly after the penalty put the Rangers ahead 2-1. Leetch would score, backhanding a rebound of an Esa Tikkanen shot to make it 3-1. Another fluke tally, this one on an intended pass that bonked off two Canucks into the net gave Steve Larmer perhaps the weirdest goal of his NHL career and an Alexei Kovalev breakaway would finish the scoring.

The Rangers would win 5-1 to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

What they wrote

“There was a snakebitten team Saturday night, but for one of the rare times since 1940, it wasn't the New York Rangers.”

-- Laura Price, Newsday

"Goodbye Pavel. Goodbye McLean magic. Goodbye home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup finals."

-- Mike Nadel Associated Press

"Brian Leetch had better make a little more room in his trophy case. If he keeps this up, and there's no indication he won't, the New York Rangers defenseman is certain to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the NHL playoffs."

- Gary Miles, Philadelphia Inquirer

Quotes of the Day

Perspective on the high-sticking call:

"It didn't appear that Jay was hurt too badly. We have four-minute penalties for things like that. I don't think he was cut. Our players didn't see anything on his face, so it's a pretty severe call.

"Is it a high-sticking? Sure it is, but we have two-, four- and five-minute penalties, and (vanHellemond) elected to take the five. It's an unfortunate call for us."

- Canucks coach Pat Quinn

"In (referee Andy) Van Hellemond's judgment, there was no case of Bure attempting to play the puck ... and there was clearly an injury to the facial area of Wells.”

-- NHL officiating supervisor Bryan Lewis

Quotes from St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Dave Luecking

Stats to Know

The five goals match the most the Rangers have scored in any of the 50 Stanley Cup Finals games in which they’ve played and the four-goal margin of victory matches the largest Rangers win in Stanley Cup Finals history.