Rangers Flashback: 10 most adrenaline pumping playoff moments of the past decade
This season has marked a new era for New York Rangers hockey. The team has finally bid farewell to the past and is retooling the roster for the future. It is a move that will hopefully provide another decade of top-notch hockey and playoff contention. But it will be a little while yet before the Rangers reach that point.
There are just a few short days until the NHL trade deadline, at which Ranger fans will likely have to once again say goodbye to players who have been a part of this team for years. In commemoration of a new period in Rangers hockey, let’s take a look at some of the greatest playoff moments in recent history. Here are the top ten most exciting and adrenaline-pumping playoff moments of the current decade.
10. Mika Zibanejad’s 2017 Overtime Winner
A year after winning the Presidents Trophy but falling short in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Rangers found themselves again competing for Lord Stanley’s cup in the playoffs. In a first round matchup with the Montreal Canadiens, they were caught in a stalemate heading into an important Game 5 in Montreal. The game went back and forth with the Rangers tying it up late in the second period. A scoreless third led to a chance for the Rangers to bring a 3-2 series lead back to Madison Square Garden. Streaking towards the net, Mika Zibanejad batted a cross ice pass from Chris Kreider into the net to give New York the series lead. The Rangers won the following game to advance to the second round.
9. Marian Gaborik’s 2012 Triple Overtime Thriller
During the 2012 playoffs, the Rangers managed to reach the Eastern Conference Finals, defeating the Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals in the process. During Game 3 of the second round versus the Capitals, tied 1-1 in the game and series, the two teams headed to OT to determine who would take the series lead. One overtime passes and no goal. Then a second overtime passes and still no winner. Finally, the third overtime period begins. With the clock now passed midnight in 3OT, Marian Gaborik receives a centering pass and promptly slides it through the five-hole of the Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby.
8. Marc Staal’s 2012 Overtime Winner
Two games later in that same series, now tied 2-2, the Rangers found themselves down by a goal with 18 seconds to play. Washington was called for a four minute high sticking penalty. The Rangers’ Brad Richards then scored an electrifying power play goal with 6.6 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime. But because it was a double-minor penalty, the Rangers would begin the extra period on the man advantage. About a minute and a half into the period, the Rangers won a face-off back to Marc Staal, who proceeded to bomb a slap shot through traffic past Braden Holtby. The Rangers went up 3-2 in the series and won it in seven games.
7. Carl Hagelin’s 2015 Series-Clinching Goal
In 2015, the Rangers were the top ranked team in the NHL and headed into a first round matchup with Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, meeting them in the playoffs for the second straight year. The Rangers dominated the series, taking a 3-1 series lead back to Madison Square Garden having won the previous two games in Pittsburgh. Tied 1-1 in overtime with the Penguins trying to avoid a first round exit, Carl Hagelin took control of the puck in the corner to Marc-Andre Fleury’s left side, skated toward the slot, spun around, and fired a quick forehand shot past Fleury. Hagelin was then swarmed by his teammates, as the Rangers clinched the series and beat the Penguins for the second straight year.
6. Ryan McDonagh’s 2015 Overtime Winner
The Washington Capitals were less than two minutes away from beating the Rangers and advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals. They held a 3-1 series lead heading into Game 5 and were up 1-0 late in the game. Having won the previous two games, the Capitals were riding a hot streak and bringing the Rangers to the brink of elimination. With about 1:42 left in the game, Henrik Lundqvist skated toward the Rangers bench to allow an extra skater to come on. But before even making it, Chris Kreider threw a shot at the net that eluded Holtby and tied the game. The Rangers, now with a new sense of life, took the game into OT. About halfway through the period, Derek Stepan faked a shot and threw it behind him toward a speeding Ryan McDonagh. With no hesitation, McDonagh blasted a shot that found its way into the back of the net. The Garden exploded as the Rangers now had life in the series after being on the brink of elimination.
5. Martin St. Louis’ Mother’s Day Goal
During the 2014 playoffs, the Rangers found themselves down 3-1 in their second round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins. On the brink of elimination and heading to Pittsburgh for Game 5, as if their morale couldn’t get worse, Rangers’ forward Martin St. Louis found out his mother had passed away from a heart attack three days before Mother’s Day at the age of 63. Despite the devastation he felt from this news, he remained with the team. Meanwhile, the news inspired the team to push harder and sparked a comeback. The Rangers won that game in Pittsburgh by a score of 5-1, after being shut out in the previous two contests. With the Rangers trying to complete the comeback and force a decisive Game 7, the teams headed back to Madison Square Garden for Game 6, on Mother’s Day. Given the circumstances, the Rangers grieved with their teammate that day but came ready for another important game. But just a few minutes into the game, the Rangers took a 1-0 lead scored by who else but Martin St. Louis. In a moment felt by all Ranger fans and charged with emotions, Marty scored a goal and picked up the puck on his way back to the bench, dedicating the goal to his recently passed mother on Mother’s Day.
4. Dominic Moore’s 2014 Series-Clinching Goal
With the Rangers up 3-2 in the Eastern Conference Final against the Montreal Canadiens, Game 6 consisted of little scoring and tight defense. A period and a half had passed, leaving Rangers fans to question whether they could finish off Montreal during that game or be forced to play a seventh game in Montreal. Finally, with the second period almost at its end, Dominic Moore received a centering pass from Brian Boyle and put it in the back of the net, giving the Rangers a 1-0 lead heading into the third period. They would go on to keep the lead and close out the series.
3. Derek Stepan’s 2015 Series-Clinching Goal
Two Games after Ryan McDonagh’s overtime winner, the Rangers had forced a Game 7 at Madison Square Garden, having completed the comeback after being down 3-1 in the series. The Rangers were down 1-0 but Rangers’ forward Kevin Hayes managed to tie the game in the second period. The two teams battled for the next period and a half but were unable to score again, leading to a Game 7 overtime. First team to score would receive a date with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final. Tension gradually increased as half of the overtime period passes. A face-off takes place in the Capitals zone and the Rangers win it. The puck slides back to Keith Yandle who passes the puck towards Dan Girardi. Girardi sends a one-timer from the point at the net but Holtby makes the save. However, Holtby lets it rebound out into the slot, where Derek Stepan pounces on it. Stepan snapped the rebound into the back of the net and sent the Rangers to the Eastern Conference Finals. Personally one of my favorite moments, I will never forget Mike Emerick’s call of the play.
“Drive by Girardi and a save…rebound! SCORE! Stepan, in overtime! The Rangers move on to Tampa!”
2. Rangers Win 2014 Eastern Conference Final
After taking the lead off of Moore’s second period go-ahead goal, the Rangers needed to defend for just one period in order to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 20 years. Montreal pushed hard, but Henrik Lundqvist was stellar throughout. The Rangers defense stifled the Canadiens and as the waning moments of the third period approached, fans began to countdown before finally erupting in celebration at the buzzer. Streamers came down from the rafters, the Garden shook, and the Rangers were off to the Finals for the first time since they ended their 54-year championship drought.
Chris Kreider scored an overtime winner against the Boston Bruins during the second round of the 2013 playoffs. Down 3-0 in that series, the goal kept the Rangers alive for one more game. Unfortunately, the Bruins won the next game, ending the Rangers season and coach John Tortorella’s tenure in New York.
Kevin Hayes scored in overtime in Game 4 of the 2015 conference quarterfinals against the Penguins. That victory set up the Rangers Game 5 win.
1. Martin St. Louis Overtime Winner
Up 2-1 in Eastern Conference Final, the Rangers were presented with an opportunity with take a 3-1 lead heading back to Montreal. The Rangers took a 2-1 lead into the second intermission of Game 4, but Canadiens’ P.K. Subban tied it just two minutes into the period. The teams battled for another period but were unable to pull through, resulting in overtime. Six minutes into the overtime, Carl Hagelin found Martin St. Louis all alone near the left side of Montreal netminder Dustin Tokarski. St. Louis had shot from this same exact spot in games and periods prior, but was robbed by Tokarski every time. This time was different. St. Louis fired it above his shoulder and the Garden exploded. The Rangers were now just one game away from the Stanley Cup Finals and the anticipation was brewing. St. Louis jumped into the corner boards, followed by his teammates, as the deafening roar of MSG celebrated the Rangers 3-1 series lead.
The countdown above is my take on the the Rangers recent playoff moments. Many of you may have different lists. As we continue to reminisce and close the door on the previous era, feel free to leave me a comment with YOUR favorite Rangers playoff moment of the 2010s.