The Stanley Cup Playoffs are always the greatest postseason in sports, but the New York Rangers have also enjoyed tremendous regular-season tilts.
The New York Rangers have been crowned as the champions of NHL just once since 1940. Despite the Blueshirts’ inability to take to home the ultimate prize, the Blueshirts have achieved plenty of success, especially in recent years.
We recently experienced a golden age of Rangers hockey, as the Boys in Blue had a tremendous run of success between 2010 and 2017. James Dolan’s team never captured Lord Stanley’s cup, but they certainly came close.
Throughout these years, the Rangers have played in a number of thrilling contests. Today we take a look back at the Blueshirts’ 10 greatest regular season games of the modern era.
10. October 25, 2010, Rangers vs. Penguins
The Rangers continue their hot start to the 2010-2011 season with a thrilling shootout victory over the Penguins. Down two goals entering the final frame, the Blueshirts battled back late in this one. Markus Naslund got the Boys in Blue on the board. In the game’s dying seconds, Nikolai Zherdev led an epic end-to-end rush up the ice, on which he beat Marc Andre-Fleury with a beautiful wrister with nine seconds remaining in the contest.
After Zherdev’s fiery celebration, this one eventually needed a shootout. Freddie Sjostrom scored and Henrik Lundqvist stopped Sidney Crosby in the breakaway challenge to secure the victory for the Blueshirts.
9. November 26, 2005, Rangers vs. Capitals
We’ll skip ahead past regulation because this game was memorable for what happened after the final buzzer. With the score knotted at two and overtime unable to solve anything, this contest needed a shootout. Except this was not your traditional shootout, as it lasted 15 rounds.
In the 15th round following a Henrik Lundqvist save against Matt Bradley, the game was on Marek Malik’s stick. Malik was up to the challenge, winning the game for the Rangers in dramatic fashion with his famous between-the-legs deke. Malik’s move was amazing enough, to begin with, but he was also an unlikely hero. The Czech defenseman was not known for his offense, as he scored 168 points in 691 games. He didn’t have a goal during the 2005 season prior to his shootout-winner.
8. April 25, 2013, Rangers at Hurricanes
The 2013 NHL lockout season came down to the wire for the Blueshirts. The Boys in Blue traveled to Carolina with a chance to clinch a playoff spot with a victory. The Rangers came out flying with two first period goals tallied by Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard. However, the Hurricanes wouldn’t go down without a fight.
The Canes battled back, notching three goals in a row, but Brad Richards tied the game with less than three minutes on the clock. In overtime, it was captain Ryan Callahan who sniped one past Dan Ellis to send New York back to the playoffs.
7. February 16, 2015, Rangers at Islanders
This one was a back-and-forth battle at Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders scored two early goals to take an early lead, but the Blueshirts battled back and headed to the final frame with a one-goal deficit. The Isles opened the scoring in the third, but the Blueshirts rattled off three unanswered goals, including the eventual game-winner which was scored by Kevin Klein. In the end, it was a 6-5 Rangers victory.
6. October 28, 2014, Rangers vs. Wild
In this one, the New York Rangers trailed the Minnesota Wild by three scores with just 20 minutes remaining. The Blueshirts took over in the final frame, finding the back of the net five times. New York was down by a goal with less than five minutes remaining until Anthony Duclair tied the game, and then 37 seconds later Mats Zuccarello had the game-winning goal. The Rangers rallied to beat the Wild by a score of 5-4.
5. April 4, 2011, Rangers vs. Bruins
The Bruins got off to a good start in this original-six matchup, taking a 3-0 lead early on. Vinny Prospal got the comeback started with two goals, and the Blueshirts finally knotted the score in the late stages of the third period thanks to Brandon Dubinsky’s hard work in front of the net. Michael Sauer gave the Rangers the lead a minute later, and Derek Stepan added an empty-netter to seal the deal. A 5-3 win for the good guys.
4. April 13, 2013, Rangers at Islanders
Another Nassau Coliseum thriller makes the list. However, the 2013 contest extremely different than the aforementioned 2015 Battle of New York. Instead of a high-scoring affair, this one was a goalie-duel. Both Evgeni Nabokov and Henrik Lundqvist pitched a shutout through regulation, but Derick Brassard set up Dan Girardi who finally beat Nabokov in the extra session to send the Rangers home happy. This was a big win for the Blueshirts who were battling the Isles for playoff position, and also marked the 44th shutout of the illustrious career of Henrik Lundqvist.
3. November 15, 2010, Rangers at Penguins
At the start of the 2010-2011 season, the Blueshirts headed down to Pittsburgh to take on the rival Penguins. This was an early season matchup, but what a game it was. Erik Christensen’s second-period goal opened the scoring and remained as the game’s only score until the late stages when chaos ensued. With two and a half minutes left, Chris Kunitz tied the game for the Pens. Thirty-seven seconds later Matt Cooke gave Pittsburgh the lead, and this one looked like it was over, especially after New York took a costly penalty. But the Rangers never stopped fighting, as Marc Staal knotted the score with less than 90 ticks remaining.
This Metropolitan Division tilt needed extra time. In the extra period, Brandon Dubinsky executed a beautiful toe-drag which led to a two-on-zero attack. Dubinsky slid a pass over to Ryan Callahan who found the back of the net to win it for the Boys in Blue. Sam Rosen’s memorable call made this special moment all the better.
2. January 29, 2014, Rangers vs. Islanders at Yankee Stadium
On a cold January night, the Rangers took on their cross-town rivals in the 2014 Stadium Series. In the Blueshirts’ first set of outdoor games located in New York, they were successful. After crushing the New Jersey Devils, New York defeated the Islanders in a nail-biter. Benoit Pouliot quickly tied the game after Brock Nelson gave the Islanders the lead. Early in the third period, Daniel Carcillo gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead which they would hold onto through the final frame. King Henrik out-battled Evgeni Nabokov to improve the Rangers’ outdoor record to 3-0-0.
1. January 2, 2012, Rangers vs. Flyers at Citizens Bank Park
The New York Rangers’ run of outdoor success began in their first outdoor contest: The 2012 Winter Classic. The Blueshirts battled their arch-rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, at Citizens Bank Park, the home of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Following a scoreless opening period, the Flyers tallied twice in the middle frame to take a 2-0 lead. Things weren’t looking good for the Boys in Blue until an unlikely hero rose to the occasion: Mike Rupp. New York’s fourth-line goon put the Rangers within one late in the second period, and he later tied the game early in the third period. The Blueshirts kept the momentum on their side, as Brandon Dubinsky found Brad Richards who scored to give John Tortorella’s squad the lead with about 15 minutes remaining.
The Flyers pushed back, and they were finally gifted with a golden opportunity to tie the game in the dying seconds. Ryan McDonagh had covered up a loose puck in the crease with his hand, which then led to a Danny Briere penalty shot with 19.6 seconds remaining. The King stood tall, as he stoned Briere on his attempt to beat him through the five-hole. The Rangers went onto win by a score of 3-2.