In Game 3 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals, Martin Brodeur faced 50 shots on goal, but number 50 turned out to be the one that counted most.
Stephane Matteau scored the game winning goal at 6:13 of the second overtime to give the Rangers a 3-2 win over the Devils, and a 2-1 lead in the series in front of a sellout crowd of 19,040 (that number!) at Brendan Byrne Arena.
This game would never have reached overtime if not for Brodeur, who was sensational. The Devils goaltender was becoming a superstar in the league right before our very eyes. He had 30 saves in this game by the end of the 2nd period.
"We still have to play better," said Rangers captain Mark Messier. "I guess coming into the series, we knew Brodeur was good. We had a chance to take control early, but we couldn't put the puck past him. This game was pretty much a goaltender's battle."
Adam Graves and Steve Larmer scored in regulation for the Rangers. Viacheslav Fetisov and Valeri Zelepukin scored for the Devils against Mike Richter, who was hardly tested in the first forty minutes, but had to make a great save on Richer late in the third period and a spectacular stop on Tommy Albelin in OT.
Play took a turn for the nasty in this game. Jeff Beukeboom injured the knee of Devils C Bob Carpenter with a check, and Devils C Bernie Nicholls cross-checked Alex Kovalev in the neck.
After the game, Rangers coach Mike Keenan blasted Nicholls, the refs, and the league.
"I'm also calling for Bernie Nicholls to be suspended," Keenan said after the game. "He deliberately tried to injury Alex Kovalev when he was defenseless on his hands and knees." Keenan added a moment later, "Bernie is a hell of a hockey player, but there is no need to try to break somebody's neck." Nicholls would be suspended for Game 4.
Viacheslav Fetisov and Valeri Zelepukin scored for the Devils. New Jersey got lucky when Fetisov's shot from the point hit Richter, then Craig MacTavish and then went in for a 1-1 tie after one period. Zelepukin's goal came on the power play.
Despite the two double overtime games, all the best drama of this series was still to come.
[Note by jrs1940, thanks to highbeam.com for the post game quotes]