Remembering the greatest Rangers game ever at Nassau Coliseum

Zubov scored one of the greatest goals in the NYR / NYI rivalry

Zubov scored one of the greatest goals in the NYR / NYI rivalry

The Rangers and Islanders will play the last ever regular season game at the Nassau Coliseum tonight. Of course, this has many feeling nostalgic today and I am no different. 

As per Evan Sporer on, the Coliseum opened in 1972, and has hosted 125 Rangers/Islanders classics. The Isles are 65-48-4 with eight ties, and the Blueshirts 52-63-2 with eight ties

Cloutier fights Salo, kind of (Roca/NYDN 1998)

Cloutier fights Salo, kind of (Roca/NYDN 1998)

Each individual Ranger fan will have their own opinion of which game was the greatest Blueshirt win at the Coliseum. Some may not even care if the Rangers won, maybe it was just a special game to be at or something memorable happened.

For younger fans, it could be the recent 6-5 come from behind victory in their last meeting at the Coliseum. Or maybe it was the Dan Cloutier game in 1998? That was when Rangers’ goalie Dan Cloutier pummeled Tommy Salo then went over the Islanders bench and taunted them to come get him.

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Older fans may remark a game from the late 70’s or early 80’s, but those were some lean times for the Rangers as the Islanders had built a dynasty that would capture 4 straight Cups and 5 straight Final appearances.

For me, the greatest Rangers/Islanders game at the Nassau Coliseum came in 1994. The Rangers were dealing with the “Curse of 1940″ and the Islanders had just come off a trip to the Eastern Conference Final the year before. Yes, the Rangers were looking like a team of destiny as they were steamrolling teams to the President’s Trophy. However, they needed to do something they hadn’t done in nearly 5 years. The Blueshirts had to win a game at the Nassau Coliseum.

March 5th, 1994 was a crucial game in that Championship season. If they didn’t break the Coliseum Hex, would they have beaten the Isles in the 1st round? In that game the Isles were flying and Richter was pulled early in the second, replaced by Healy. The former Islander did not fair better and was quickly yanked by Keenan in favor of Richter. It was crazy to say the least, as the Rangers had to make a few comebacks to get it tied at 4.

Stan Fishler wrote:

As for wounds, Healy soon would suffer hurt feelings after erroneously wandering from the net to clear a loose puck. Healy missed, Benoit Hogue followed up and scored. Furious, Keenan signaled Healy to return to the Rangers bench.  After just a little more than 11minutes of the game, the Rangers coach had seen enough of Healy and unceremoniously gave his back-up the hook. Glenn hardly kept his displeasure to himself and when he reached the bench the coach and goalie exchanged words. 

Keenan: “There was no discussion whatsoever. Glenn asked if he was coming out because of the mistake he made and I didn’t say one word.”

Healy: “I offered just a kind ‘hello’ to Mike! I don’t play for my coach; I play for myself and my teammates.”

The drama at this point was already as high as the stakes. Late in the third period and I remember it vividly, Sergei Zubov would take a shot that smashed the jinx. The young Russian blueliner was just inside the zone when he reared back and let one fly. The blast was like a rocket that beat Ron Hextall for a 5-4 victory. The sight of Zubov dropping to his knees and looking to the heavens while celebrating still gives me chills.

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It was glorious and one of the best feelings I ever had watching a Rangers/Islanders game. The moment that Zubov scored left such a lasting impression on me that whenever these two teams play, that is number one in my mental highlight reel.

So today, let’s celebrate this great rivalry and the memorable moments the old Nassau Coliseum provided us. As for tonight, let’s hope the Rangers go in and get a big win and provide us our last great memory of Uniondale.

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Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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