The Rangers have been to the Stanley Cup Final 11 times, winning it four times. A look back at each appearance in the Cup Final.


Credit: AP / Mark J. Terrill

The Rangers dug themselves into an early 3-0 hole, but it wasn't due to a lack of effort. The Blueshirts lost Game 1 in Los Angeles in overtime and fell in double overtime in Game 2, blowing early two-goal leads in both games. After a 3-0 loss in Game 3 at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers managed to hold on for a 2-1 win in Game 4 to avoid a Stanley Cup sweep on their home ice. But they fell in double overtime in Game 5 -- which, like Games 1 and 2, was played in L.A.


Credit: Newsday / Paul Bereswill

Behind Mark Messier, Brian Leetch and Mike Richter, the Rangers won 52 regular season games, then a franchise-high, and took home their first Stanley Cup in more than 50 years. After coming back in a wild conference final against the Devils that featured three double-overtime games, the Rangers got off to a rough start against Vancouver as they fell to the Canucks, 3-2, in overtime in Game 1 at Madison Square Garden. Greg Adams put the game-winner past Richter with 34 seconds left just after Leetch hit the crossbar on a shot at the other end. The Rangers rebounded to win three straight, outscoring the Canucks, 12-4. But Vancouver wouldn’t go down easily. The Canucks managed to win Games 5 and 6 with a surge of goals, led by Geoff Courtnall with four and Jeff Brown with three. It all came down to Game 7 at the Garden. The final 90 seconds were tense. With the Rangers leading 3-2, Vancouver pulled goalie Kirk McLean with 57 seconds left. The Rangers continuously iced the puck as they tried furiously to fend off the Canucks’ extra attacker. With 1.6 seconds left, the Rangers’ Craig MacTavish and Canucks’ Murray Craven took one last faceoff in the Rangers’ zone. MacTavish won it, pulling the puck back toward the boards. Despite a desperate attempt by Canucks star Pavel Bure, the Rangers froze the puck and put that “Nineteen-Forty” chant to rest. Fittingly, it was Captain Messier’s second-period goal that sealed it for the Rangers. Messier, along with Conn Smythe Trophy winner Leetch, scored four game-winning goals apiece throughout the Blueshirts’ playoff run.


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Despite leading the season series against the Canadiens, 3-1, the Rangers weren’t able to produce against Montreal in the playoffs. The Blueshirts registered 14 goals in those four regular-season games against the Canadiens but managed just 11 goals over five games in the Final. The Rangers did take Game 1 as the Rangers piled it on Vezina Trophy-winner Ken Dryden, who was eventually pulled for Michel Larocque, for a 4-1 win. Canadiens coach Scotty Bowman considered making a move to Larocque in net in Game 2. At first it appeared he should have as the Rangers’ Anders Hedberg and Ron Duguay scored to take a 2-0 lead. But Dryden and the rest of the Canadiens rallied and ended up winning, 6-2, after firing 33 shots at Blueshirts goalie John Davidson. Behind Dryden’s rediscovered solid play, the Canadiens stymied the Rangers in Game 3 for a 4-1 win. The Rangers seemed like they were on their way toward evening the series in Game 4 when Pat Hickey quickly put the Rangers ahead at 1:19 in the first period with a freak goal that went off Dryden’s skate. The Canadiens just as quickly tied things up after Davidson misplayed a puck behind the net, leaving a wide open shot for Bob Gainey. Late in the first period, Don Murdoch put the Rangers back on top, 2-1. The back-and-forth battle continued, with regulation ending tied at 3. In overtime, it appeared the Canadiens’ Larry Robinson scored on a 55-foot shot 6:25 into the period, but there was no signal from the goal judge. It didn’t matter. Montreal got the result it was looking for on a Serge Savard backhander 7:25 into OT. The Rangers were deflated after the loss. Gainey and Jacques Lemaire led the scoring for the Habs as they won 4-1 to seal the Cup for the fourth straight year.


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Boston completely dominated the 1972 playoffs. John Bucyk, Phil Esposito and Ken Hodge each scored nine goals during the Bruins’ title run. Before taking on the Rangers they went 9-1 in the quarterfinals and semifinals against the Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues, respectively. The Rangers immediately went down 2-0 in the series with tough one-goal losses. The Blueshirts blew a 5-1 lead before Garnet Bailey slipped the game-winner by Rangers goalie Ed Giacomin in Game 1. In Game 2, it was Ken Hodge who nailed the game-winner for the Bruins midway through the third period in a penalty-ridden game. The Rangers bounced back to win Game 3 at home, 5-2, despite losing defensemen Jim Neilson and Ab DeMarco to injury. Bruins star Bobby Orr was the key factor in Game 4. He scored the team’s first two goals before heading to the bench in the second with a knee injury. Orr later returned to set up the decisive goal from Don Marcotte early in the third. The Rangers cut the Bruins’ lead to 3-2, but the extra skater was ineffective and the Bruins took a 3-1 series lead. Back on the road in Game 5, the Blueshirts battled from deficits twice in the game. Bobby Rousseau netted two goals in the third period to keep the Rangers alive. But the Bruins suffocated any hope for the Rangers in Game 6 as Orr, who was bothered by his surgically repaired left knee all series, again put Boston ahead quickly. The Bruins never looked back as they knocked off the Rangers, 3-0, to take the Cup.


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The first three games of the series went back and forth, with the favored Red Wings taking Games 1 and 3. The Rangers turned up the heat in Game 4 and won in overtime on a game-winner from Don Raleigh at 8:34 of the extra period. With the series even at 2, the Blueshirts again took Detroit into overtime. And yet again, it was Raleigh who beat Red Wings goalie Harry Lumley at 1:38 in OT to give the Rangers their first series lead in the Final. The Rangers took an early 2-0 lead in Game 6 and looked set to lock up the series, but Red Wings forwards Ted Lindsay and Sid Abel had something different in mind. They each scored two goals to help lead a 5-4 comeback that nearly went into overtime. Onto Game 7. The underdog Rangers took another early 2-0 lead much like in Game 6, and yet again, they blew it. The Red Wings scored twice in 21 seconds on the power play in the second. Buddy O’Connor put the Rangers ahead in the same period, but Jimmy McFadden tied it up just before the period expired. The score remained at 3-3 through the third period and first overtime period. The Red Wings continued their aggressive play, and it paid off when Pete Babando got one past Rangers goalie Charley Rayner for a thrilling 4-3 win to give the Red Wings their first Cup since 1943.


In the first Stanley Cup Final to be played as a best-of-seven series (it was previously best-of-five), sudden death was the Rangers’ best friend. Three of their wins in the series came in overtime, including the opener. The Rangers struck first in Game 1 with a goal from captain Art Coulter midway through the first. The lead didn’t last long as Rangers rookie Alfie Pike made a critical mistake by misplaying a puck in his own zone for anown-goal past netminder Dave Kerr. Pike could have easily become the scapegoat, but with the score still tied at 1-1, it was the first-year left wing who gave the Rangers the win with a goal at 15:30 of overtime. In Game 2, the Leafs got off to an early 2-0 lead, but a hat trick from Bryan Hextall and strong goaltending by Kerr the rest of the way gave the Rangers a 6-2 win at the Garden. Much like in 1937, the remainder of the series moved to Toronto because MSG was booked for other events. Despite dropping the next two, the home-ice negation didn’t bother the Rangers. With the series even at 2-2, the Rangers again turned to OT. After playing 31:43 in overtime, the Rangers’ Murray Patrick squeaked one by Leafs goalie Turk Broda for the sudden-death victory, putting the Blueshirts on the brink of winning the Cup. The Rangers got themselves into a 2-0 hole in the second period of Game 6, but in the final 12 minutes, Neil Colville and Pike scored past Broda to make it 2-2, and of course, force overtime. Just over two minutes into the extra period, Hextall played the hero by driving one past Broda to give the Rangers a taste of history.


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Coming off two straight sweeps of the Maple Leafs and Montreal Maroons, respectively, in the first two rounds, the Rangers came into this best-of-five Stanley Cup Final looking to cruise to another sweep. The Blueshirts came out strong in Game 1, grabbing the early lead on a Butch Keeling goal and never looked back in a 5-1 rout of Detroit. In an odd scheduling dilemma, the teams were off to Detroit for the rest of the series because Madison Square Garden was booked for another event. The Red Wings jumped on the Blueshirts early in Game 2, going up 3-0 in the first period and holding on for a 4-2 win. The Rangers rebounded in Game 3 as Dave Kerr recorded his fourth shutout of the playoffs and Neil Colville put a rebound past rookie Earl Robertson, who was filling in for the injured Normie Smith, for the lone goal of the game. The momentum of a 2-1 series lead quickly faded for the Rangers. With under eight minutes to go in Game 4, Marty Barry weaved his way through the Rangers forwards and pulled up for a 20-foot shot that snuck by Kerr. Barry stepped up for the Red Wings yet again in Game 5, registering goals in the first and third periods, with another from Johnny Sorrell in between.


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In a rematch from the previous year’s Final, the Rangers came in with a chip on their shoulder. The Blueshirts beat the Leafs, 5-1, in Game 1 in New York. Rangers right wing Cecil Dillon scored two of the Rangers’ goals to up his playoff total to seven, setting a playoff record at that time. The Rangers’ Earl Seibert led the way in Game 2, notching a goal and playing solid defense to shutdown Toronto’s scoring chances. Ott Heller and Bill Cook also scored to give the Rangers a 3-1 win and a chance to avenge their sweep in last year’s Final. Dillon again put the aggressive Rangers on the board first in Game 3. In the second period, the Leafs’ Ken Doraty beat Rangers goalie Andy Aitkenhead to even the score. Doraty again found the net at 5:30 in the third period to give the Leafs their first lead, but just over two minutes later the Rangers tied it up again on a Butch Keeling goal. The momentum switched yet again as the Leafs quickly advanced into Rangers’ territory and Red Horner scored the eventual game-winner at 8:29 to force a Game 4. This time around, both offensive units were kept quiet as Aitkenhead and Leafs goalie Lorne Chabot held down their respective nets through regulation to force overtime. Rangers captain Bill Cook received a rink-wide pass from Keeling and put home the winner at 7:34 of OT to capture the Cup.


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John Ross Roach posted a 2.23 goals against average in the 1931-32 season, but the veteran goaltender had no chance against the likes of Toronto’s Charlie Conacher and Busher Jackson. The Leafs didn’t just sweep the Rangers, they also put up six goals apiece in each of their three wins. There were 19 penalties called in a hard-fought Game 1. Toronto scored first on a goal from Hap Day at 4:25 in the first, but Cook countered with a goal late in the period to make it 1-1 at the first intermission. The Leafs scored four straight goals, including three from the season’s scoring leader Jackson in the second period. The Rangers answered with three straight goals, but it wasn’t enough as Red Horner netted an insurance goal at 18:32 to give the Leafs a 6-4 win. The Rangers got off to a 2-0 lead in Game 2 behind goals from Bun Cook and Doug Brennan, but from then on, Lorne Chabot was lights out in net. Starting with a Jackson goal at 2:06 in the second period, the Leafs scored six unanswered goals, including two from King Clancy. The fiery Leafs’ offense came out blazing in Game 3 as Andy Blair quickly gave them a lead with two goals in the first seven minutes of the game. Toronto took a 5-1 lead late into the third period, and despite a hat trick from the Rangers’ Frank Boucher, held on for a 6-4 victory and their first Stanley Cup in 10 years.


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Before moving back to a best-of-five series in 1931, the Stanley Cup Final was just a best-of-three matchup in 1929. For the first time in the league’s history, the Final featured two teams from the United States. With Tiny Thompson in goal, the Bruins shut out the Rangers in Game 1. Dit Clapper and Jim Gainor both scored in the second period, giving the Bruins all they would need for the 2-0 win. After a scoreless first period in Game 2, Harry Oliver put the Bruins on the board at 6:48 in the second as he beat Rangers goalie John Ross Roach. Butch Keeling, who had played the hero twice earlier in the playoffs to help the Rangers advance, finally netted the Rangers’ first goal of the series at 6:48 in the third period. The New York crowd started to get rowdy with overtime seemingly imminent, but with just under two minutes left, Bill Carson put a flashy shot to the back of the net to rip the Cup away from the defending champs.


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In just their second NHL season, the Rangers reached the Stanley Cup Final. The Maroons, who had won what was then known as the NHL Final in 1926, took Game 1 at home, 2-0. Despite going 40-plus minutes without a goal, the Rangers came out with more energy in Game 2. In a dramatic turn, Rangers netminder Lorne Chabot took a puck to his left eye and was taken to the hospital. In cinematic fashion, Rangers coach Lester Patrick, who was known for his defensive prowess as a player in multiple leagues in Canada, put on goalie pads for the first time and took Chabot’s place. Patrick was able to fend off the Maroons’ attack through two scoreless periods before Bill Cook finally scored 30 seconds into the third period to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. The Maroons’ Nelson Steward tied the game at 14:20, forcing an unlimited overtime period. The Rangers didn’t need too much time as Frank Boucher received a pass from Ching Johnson and snuck one past the Maroons’ Clint Benedict for a thrilling 2-1 win. With the series even at 1, the Rangers gained an edge as the teams moved to New York for the remaining games. Patrick moved back to the bench and Joe Miller stepped in at goalie for the Rangers. Miller was credited with 29 saves, but Montreal mustered two goals from Nelson Stewart and Babe Siebert to win it, 2-0. In a fast-paced Game 4, it only took one goal. Bing Memorial Trophy winner Frank Boucher took a pass from Bill Cook early in the second for that lone score as the Rangers evened the series at 2-2. The Rangers couldn’t escape eye injuries in this series. Just as Game 5 got underway, Miller, who the Rangers only brought in after Chabot suffered an eye injury in Game 2, was struck in the right eye by a shot from the Maroons’ Hooley Smith. Miller would return to the ice and play stellar in net the rest of the way. Boucher weaved his way through the entire Maroon team and beat Benedict for the first goal. Later, Miller was fending off the Maroons when he lost his stick and had to fall to the ice and make a save with his hand. After the Maroons’ wild attack, Boucher brought the puck back into the Maroons’ zone and put the Rangers up 2-0 for the eventual game-winner.

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