On this day in 1994, the Vancouver Canucks drop game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final
3 months ago
On this day in 1994, after an underdog journey, the Vancouver Canucks dropped game seven of the Stanley Cup Final, losing to the New York Rangers.
The 1993-1994 Canucks team surprised many people and became a great underdog story. They weren’t exactly a top-performing team — aside from Pavel Bure’s 60-goal season — and certainly not a group people were expecting to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Canucks posted a regular season record of 41-40-3 with 85 points earning themselves a spot to compete for the Stanley Cup. Their first battle would be to beat the second-place Calgary Flames.
The series started in favour of the Canucks, putting the Flames out with a 5-0 win, but things quickly changed after Calgary came back in the next three games leading the series 3-1. People were ready for Calgary to pack in the series and head to the next round. Still, Vancouver surprised them by winning the next three games, each one of them in overtime and a game seven double overtime, thrusting themselves into the second round.
In five games, they wound up upsetting the fourth-seeded Dallas Stars, moving on to the Western Conference Final against the third-seeded Toronto Maple Leafs.
This was the first time the two Canadian teams had faced off in the playoffs, and it was also the last time a conference final had been played by two Canadian teams being played entirely in the Great North.
Although Toronto had the better league record, the Canucks were faster, younger, and more potent than the Maple Leafs, making it hard for them to edge out a win. The series went to a game five double over-time and saw Vancouver forward Greg Adams bury one past Felix Potvin just 14 seconds after the second overtime puck drop, punching the Canucks their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final, winning the series 4-1.
The Rangers were set to be the team on the other end of the ice for the Final. They entered the playoffs with the best record in the league at 52-24-8. This would be the pair’s first and only playoffs series. Neither team had seen the Finals in over a decade with the Rangers’ last appearance was back in 1979, and the Canucks last was back in 1982, setting the tone for the bittersweet series.
Game one at Madison Square Garden was packed with fans sporting red, white, and blue jerseys, but that wouldn’t intimidate the Canadian team.
The Canucks were down 2-1 going into the last minute of regulation play when Vancouver forward Martin Gelinas potted one in the back of the net, sending the game to overtime. The Rangers had one weak point throughout their playoff run: giving up last-minute goals, which they did on eight separate occasions before the final. This particular game didn’t end in favour of the Rangers, and the Canucks won 3-2 in overtime thanks to a goal off an odd-man rush from Greg Adams.
The Rangers didn’t bow down to the Canucks coming back to win games two, three, and four.
Game five at Madison Square Garden and again filled with Rangers fans, hopeful they’d witness their team hoist Lord Stanley. Still, the Canucks weren’t entirely on the same page. They played a strong game and ended up doubling the goals of the Rangers, winning 6-3.
Game six saw the Canucks have their first win at Pacific Coliseum and tied the series at three.
Finally, on this day in 1994, the Stanley Cup rolled into Madison Square Garden, waiting to be lifted by its respected victors. As the stadium filled with hopeful spectators, everyone knew a battle would be played out on the ice that night.
The Rangers took an early 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Brian Leetch and Adam Graves in the opening 15 minutes. Their two-goal lead wouldn’t last long when Canucks captain Trevor Linden came buzzing out of the dressing room to start the second period, silencing the crowd with a short-handed goal. Canucks, Dave Babych would sit for a two-minute time out for tripping, resulting in Mark Messier making the score 3-1 for the Rangers.
Moving into the final period, the Canucks did not give up. Linden scored his second of the night on a power play opportunity, a hectic attempt from Martin Gelinas, and a shot from Nathan LaFayette that snuck behind Rangers netminder Mike Richter, hitting the post and bouncing out. As the clock wound down to its final seconds, the Rangers came out victorious, winning their first Stanley Cup in 54 years.
The young Canucks shook the team from the Big Apple to their roots. The Province’s Tony Gallagher told an exhausted Linden about the 9,000 fans back home at Pacific Coliseum that gathered to watch the game.
“Out of everything I’ll take away from this experience, the fans are the thing I can’t say enough about,” Linden said.
“There were times when we were absolutely overwhelmed by their support. We wish we could have given them one more party.”
The Canucks may not have won the cup that year, but they accomplished something the hockey world wasn’t expecting. They rose above everyone, came together as a team, and fought with everything they had.
Aleena Aksenchuk is an intern with Oilersnation and the Nation Network. She can be found on Twitter at @A_Aksenchuk8.
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