15 years ago today: Rangers 4 Devils 0: Series tied
When you need a message sent, you get the Captain to deliver it.
Less than a minute into Game 2 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Mark Messier leveled Devils Captain Scott Stevens with a bone crushing hit behind the Devils net, and 20 seconds later, he put an exclamation point on the hit by putting the puck past Martin Brodeur to give the Rangers a lead they would never relinquish.
The Rangers came into Game 2 down one game to none, and with a heavy chip on their shoulder. The game plan was simple, hit the Devils early, and hit them often, especially Devil forwards Valeri Zelepukin and Stephane Richer, considered by the Rangers to be the Devils biggest scoring threats. The Rangers felt they let one get away, and they let the Devils know early that it wasn't going to happen again in Game Two. The hitting in this game was absolutely brutal, and most of it was done by the boys in white.
The score would remain 1-0 into the final period, but the Rangers had established their game, and were dominating play, outshooting the Devils 25-11 heading into the third, and that's when the Rangers persistence paid off.
In the early moments of the third, Esa Tikkanen was driving to the net and was hooked from behind by Bruce Driver, sending him skidding into Brodeur. While the Devils goalie was down, Sergei Nemchinov found a rebound and an empty net, and blasted the puck home to put the Rangers up by two. Brodeur argued with referee Kerry Fraser that he was run into, but to no avail.
The Rangers continued the relentless attack, and at the 6:11 mark, Glenn Anderson scored a beautiful goal, stepping over an attempted poke check from Brodeur, and burying the puck to put the Rangers up 3-0. Anderson was challenged by Rangers coach Mike Keenan after a lackluster effort in Game One, and responded by playing a terrific game, and getting his first goal of the playoffs.
Just two minutes later, Adam Graves, who led the Rangers with 52 goals in the regular season, scored his 8th goal of the playoffs to give the Rangers a 4-0 lead, and send Brodeur to the showers. Brodeur had been pulled in all four of his starts against the Rangers during the regular season. Brodeur was outstanding thru most of this game, the Devils didn't give him the support he got in Game One.
Mike Richter notched his fourth shutout of the playoffs, although his night was relatively easy, facing just 16 shots, and very few scoring chances.
Mike Keenan criticized his team's poor play in Game One. The Rangers got the message, and sent one of their own, courtesy of the Captain.