As the final buzzer sounded during the New York Rangers' 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals to advance to the Eastern Conference Final against the New Jersey Devils, the similarities to their Stanley Cup run in 1994 continued to grow.
In 1994, the Rangers finished atop the Eastern Conference with 50-plus wins, just like this year.
In 1994, the Rangers had an All-Star Game MVP in Mike Richter, just like this year with Marian Gaborik.
In 1994, the Rangers defeated the Capitals to advance to the conference final, just like this year.
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And in 1994 the Rangers met the Devils in a memorable conference final that ended thanks to a Stephane Matteau wrap-around.
It remains to be seen how things will end this time around, but if you're a Rangers fan looking for some sort of cosmic sign that this is their year, well, history does have a way of repeating itself.
In 2012, Brad Richards, New York's $60 million man, again stepped up and delivered. After setting up Marian Gaborik's goal in the third overtime of Game 3, then scoring the game-tying goal with 6.6 seconds left in their miracle comeback in Game 5, his goal 92 seconds into the first period opened the scoring and sent an already on-edge Madison Square Garden into a frenzy. It was Richards' fourth goal of the series and sixth of the playoffs.
Richards' goal was looking to be the only one until when midway through the third period Michael Del Zotto gave New York a 2-0 cushion, which Washington quickly cut in half 38 seconds later by Roman Hamrlik. "We never make it easy," said Richards to NBC Sports Network's Pierre McGuire after the game. He was right. Just 36 seconds after the Hamrlik goal, Ruslan Fedotenko was called for a delay of game penalty giving the Capitals a power play.
It was a tense final 9:17, but relief overcame MSG once the scoreboard read 0:00 and Rangers fans could finally breathe again.
"King" Henrik Lundqvist was deserving of his noble title making 22 saves. It was Lundqvist's second career win in a Game 7 and a measure of revenge from 2009 when the Capitals eliminated the "King" and all of his men in seven games in the first round.
Monday begins their challenge with Game 1 against the Devils and the storylines have already been written.
The March line brawl will be replayed ad nauseam and war of words that ensued between Peter DeBoer and John Tortorella will be revisited in order to add a touch of spice. Then you have the memories of 1994, of course.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy
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