To be a Rangers fan is to be very familiar with the feeling of a heartbreaking loss.Pain and suffering come with being a fan of the New York Rangers, even with a Stanley Cup to their credit from 1994.
For those of you who are longtime followers, you’ll appreciate the list below.
The losses to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup finals got us to thinking about the other notches on the belts of the 30- and 40-something-year-old Rangers fans. We’re too young to remember Pete Babando’s Stanley Cup-winning goal for the Red Wings in Game 7 of the 1950 finals, but there’s a decent list to be made of heartbreaking playoff losses from the past 40 years. With the help of some folks on Twitter, here's a pretty good (or bad, depending on your perspective) group.
The J.P. Parise Game
The Rangers were the big brother, and the Islanders the little brother, among New York City hockey followers until this playoff series, the preliminary round of the 1975 playoffs.
Game 3 of the best-of-3 went to overtime, and J.P. Parise scored 11 seconds in to lift the Islanders to the upset win and change the tone of New York hockey.
The Rangers have had their share of heartbreaking playoff losses against the Montreal Canadiens. They lost twice in overtime, once in the 1979 Stanley Cup finals and once in the 1986 conference finals, both in series that the Canadiens would win in five games. In each case, the Rangers were stymied by a future Hall of Fame goalie, with Ken Dryden doing the honors in 1979 and rookie Patrick Roy with a dominant game in 1986.
The Ken Morrow Game
The Rangers-Islanders rivalry developed into an epic one in the late 1970s and early 1980s as the Islanders evolved into a hockey dynasty after falling to the Rangers in 1979. In 1984, the Rangers led the Patrick Division semifinal series 2-1, but lost in Game 4. Game 5 came down to the final seconds in regulation, and Rangers fans celebrated when Don Maloney batted in the tying goal. But the Islanders would win the series in overtime on Ken Morrow’s shot from the right circle that went right through Glen Hanlon’s legs.
The Ron Francis Game
The 1992 Rangers were supposed to be the team that broke the franchise’s Stanley Cup drought, with new captain Mark Messier leading the way to a 105-point Presidents' Trophy season.
But with the Rangers up 2-1 on the Penguins in the Patrick Division finals and up two goals in Game 4, the Rangers collapsed. Ron Francis’ slap shot from just in front of center ice sparked the Penguins to a comeback, and they won in overtime on a Messier giveaway.
The Penguins would take the series in six games and go on to win the Stanley Cup.
The Eric Lindros Game
The Rangers advanced to the conference finals against a powerful Flyers team in 1997, beating the Panthers and Devils by winning in overtime in the series clinchers.
The Flyers would prove to be too much. After the teams split the first two games, the Flyers would win the next three. Game 4 was the signature game of this series, with Eric Lindros scoring in the final seconds of regulation to give the Flyers the win.
The Chris Drury Game
Before Chris Drury became a Ranger, he broke Rangers fans' hearts in Game 5 of the 2007 conference semis. After the Rangers rallied from a 2-0 series deficit to get even, they led Game 5 against the Buffalo Sabres in the waning seconds.
But Drury scored with 7.7 seconds remaining in regulation, and the Sabres made quick work of overtime. The Rangers would lose Game 6, and the series, two days later.
The Sergei Fedorov Game
The Rangers had a 3-1 lead in their 2009 first-round matchup against the first-place Washington Capitals, but couldn’t hold it. The Capitals won Games 5 and 6 to even the series.
Game 7 was tied until 4:59 remained, when Sergei Fedorov, playing in his final NHL season, rocketed a shot past Henrik Lundqvist for the series-winning tally.
Where was Gaborik?
The 2010 season came down to a final-game showdown with the Philadelphia Flyers, with the winner earning the final playoff spot in the conference.
The game was tight throughout and the teams went to a shootout tied 1-1.
Jokinen would be denied by Brian Boucher, and the Rangers would fail to make the postseason.
The Disappearing Three-Goal Lead
The 2011 Rangers trailed the Washington Capitals two games to one, but seemed on the verge of rallying, with a 3-0 lead at home in Game 4.
The Capitals would score three times in the third period, with Marcus Johansson tallying twice in a row to tie the game. They would win in double overtime when Gaborik accidentally deflected a puck that Jason Chimera stuffed into an empty net (Lundqvist had come out to try to play the puck).
The Capitals would clinch the series with a Game 5 win.
The Devils did it
The 2012 Rangers looked like they were going to break through as the top seed in the Eastern Conference and one of the best teams in the NHL. They would beat the Senators and Capitals in seven games in each of the first two rounds.
But they ran into a Devils team that had heart, toughness and good goaltending. The Rangers lost three straight games after holding a 2-1 series lead. They would rally from 2-0 down in Game 6 but fall in overtime on a goal by Adam Henrique.