New York-area hockey loves drama in its final game of the season. The New York Rangers must get at least one point in their season finale against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday afternoon to keep their playoff hopes alive. Even with a win, the Rangers will need the Carolina Hurricanes to lose to the Lightning to clinch the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
New York hockey fans (maybe not Rangers fans) wouldn't want it any other way.
The Rangers were in this same situation last year. In the season finale, they faced the Philadelphia Flyers with the winner going to the playoffs and the loser staying home for the spring and summer. The game went into a shootout tied at 1-1. In the shootout, the Flyers got goals from Danny Briere and Claude Giroux.
The Rangers got a goal from rookie P.A. Parenteau but needed Olli Jokinen to score to continue the shootout. Brian Boucher robbed Jokinen to seal the win and the berth. All the Flyers ended up doing was taking that momentum to the Stanley Cup Final as a No. 7 seed. Along the way, they came back from a 3-0 series deficit against the Boston Bruins but they lost in Game 6 of the Final on a strange OT goal by Chicago’s Patrick Kane.
In 2007, the New York Islanders needed a win of any kind in their season finale against the Devils in order to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Things started out great as the Islanders took a 2-0 lead in the third period. But John Madden scored with 4:13 left to pull within one. That set up a dramatic finish. With the goalie pulled, Madden scored a goal at the side of the net as time appeared to expire. However, video review showed the puck crossed the line with 0.7 seconds remaining.
Neither team scored in OT, sending the game went to a shootout. There, the Islanders scored twice and were in a position to win in the third round. Backup goalie Wade Dubielewicz would preserve the win with a pokecheck on Sergei Brylin sending the Islanders to the playoffs.
Check out the drama here.
In 1988, the Devils and Rangers were in a fight for the final spot in the Patrick Division playoffs. Earlier in the day the Rangers beat the Quebec Nordiques 3-0 which meant the Devils had to win in Chicago against the Blackhawks to pull into a tie in points. That would give the Devils the tiebreaker because they had more wins (back then there was no shootout and games ended in ties after a five-minute OT).
The Devils were down 3-2 late in the third period when John MacLean scored to tie the game. No one scored after sending the game to overtime. There, MacLean would play hero and score the biggest goal in franchise history as he beat goalie and former ESPN analyst Darren Pang.
Here's the winner.