With the New York Rangers down 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals and everyone about to lose their minds, now is a perfect time to take a look back at the 2013-2014 regular season and how the Rangers got here. There were many bumps in the road for the Rangers this season, but it all resulted in a trip to the Cup for the first time since 1994, and certainly included the fair share of terrific games. Rather than sulking after the two losses, let's take an optimistic look back at the top five games from this season.
Honorable Mentions: Rangers clinch home ice in the first round with a win over the Buffalo Sabres, Cam Talbot, Ryan Callahan lead Rangers to win in Montreal, Henrik Lundqvist shuts down the Stars, Rangers win in shootout over Calgary, Rangers win in shootout over Pittsburgh, Chris Kreider hat trick vs. John Tortorella, Rangers overcome blown call and win in shootout, Nash beats Stars with less than two minutes left, Brassard, Rangers take down Blue Jackets in Columbus.
5. December 31, 2013- Rangers 2, Panthers 1 (SO)- The Rangers went into their match-up vs. the Panthers with a record of 19-19-2, having struggled mightily up to this point. Brad Boyes scored in the second period to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead after a costly Dan Girardi turnover. Panthers goalie Tim Thomas was looking for his first shutout since 2012, but Girardi made up for his turnover and didn't allow it, scoring with only two minutes and ten seconds remaining. The game went into a shootout after a couple of hectic minutes of hockey, and Brad Richards won the game for the Rangers in the shootout. The win was a great way for the Rangers to end a tough fall/winter 2013.
4. October 26, 2013- Rangers 3, Red Wings 2 (OT)- After a brutal 2-6 start to the season, the Rangers won a huge overtime game on the road with only thirteen seconds remaining in the extra period. Derick Brassard notched the game winner after a diving play by Benoit Pouliot, as Cam Talbot earned his first career win, and the Rangers won in Detroit for the first time since January 30, 1999. While early in the season, this game also marked the first time the third line clicked for the Rangers, as the three goals were scored by Pouliot, Mats Zuccarello, and Brassard.
3. January 16, 2014- Rangers 1, Red Wings 0- While looking at the highlights and box score only you may not understand how this game places ahead of the previous two, trust that this was one of the most intense hockey games the Rangers have played in recent years. Henrik Lundqvist went toe to toe with Jimmy Howard, stopping all 38 Red Wings shots. Howard let a pass by Mats Zuccarello slip through for a goal, losing despite stopping 47 Rangers shots. Unlike some 1-0 yawnfest games, this had the atmosphere of a playoff game, with the feeling of first goal wins throughout. Luckily for the Rangers, they got the win.
2. January 26, 2014, Rangers 7, Devils 3, AND January 29, 2014, Rangers 2, Islanders 1- Ah, the two Stadium Series wins. While not the most exciting games by any means, the Rangers won back to back games outdoors at Yankee Stadium against two of their biggest rivals, which fans will not forget for a long time. In the Rangers-Devils game, the Rangers fell down 3-1 early but climbed back and scored six unanswered goals, chasing rival goalie Martin Brodeur out of the net, and scoring a penalty shot goal by Derek Stepan against Cory Schneider. After hearing it from Devils fans after falling behind, the Rangers prevailed easily by the end.
In the second of the two Stadium Series games, the Rangers fell behind the Islanders 1-0, only to tie it up quickly on a goal by Benoit Pouliot. The Rangers depth continued to show, as Daniel Carcillo scored the game winning goal in the third period. Henrik Lundqvist stopped a flurry of Islanders chances in the final minutes, and the Rangers continued their dominant outdoor play.
1. March 24, 2014- Rangers 4, Coyotes 3 (OT)- When figuring out the order of the five games, this one stood out all along as the best game of the season. Before the game the Rangers honored Henrik Lundqvist for breaking the Rangers all-time wins record, a great ceremony that got the fans especially loud. Immediately after, however, the Rangers fell down 2-0 after the first period, struggling mightily to skate with the Coyotes. After tying the game up, the Blueshirts surrendered another goal, leaving them down 3-2 after 2. With less than five minutes remaining, the Rangers tied the game up on a rare deflection in front by Dan Girardi, causing the Madison Square Garden crowd to go bonkers. After regulation time ended, the Rangers finished off the Coyotes, as Ryan McDonagh scored a rebound goal into an empty net after a slapshot off of Thomas Greiss' pads by Dan Girardi. It was one of the last home games of the regular season, and was certainly the most exciting of them all.