In Game 6 of their series with the Montreal Canadiens, the New York Rangers put on their best and most dominant performance. The problem? The puck simply wouldn’t go in, but eventually Dustin Tokarski was beaten with a late second period goal from Dominic Moore, sending his team to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 20 years, taking the series 4-2 with a 1-0 win.
The Rangers outshot the Canadiens 32-18, and had an especially aggressive start and finish. Tokarski made 31 saves on the 32 shots directed at him, while Henriq Lundqvist, who has had highs and lows in this series, finished with 18 saves and no mistakes. Eventually some nifty play from behind the goal opened up things in front of it, as Brian Boyle got a pass from non other than Ryan McDonagh, resulting in Moore completely open in front of Tokarski.
The goal became the most important for the franchise since 1994, the last time the Rangers went to play for the Stanley Cup, also winning it and ending a wait of over 50 years. This time they’re playing in front of people who were actually alive to see them winning the Cup last time, but it doesn’t make the accomplishment any less exciting after being the better team for most of this series, not letting the Habs’ home court advantage get in the way.
It’s been tough. You have so many highs. You have a few lows where you’re questioning a lot of things, but then you just have to make up your mind, you can’t have any excuses. I don’t think I’ve been more determined to win a hockey game. To put ourselves in a spot where we can play for the Cup is extremely special. It was just such a great feeling to see how we responded from the last game. The third period, I think we played our best period of the playoffs. When it mattered the most, the guys really stepped up.
This was the first time the Rangers won a series without it going seven games since the first round in 2008 against New Jersey. They are also the first team to reach the Stanley Cup finals after playing seven games in both their opening playoff series, not letting fatigue and the injuries that come from that sort of effort get to them in their second chance to finish off the series against a side that always seemed to be inferior and waiting for an opportunity to bite back but not having the offensive tools to do so.
Montreal will be waiting another year for their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance since 1993. For the most decorated franchise in the NHL, that’s too much of a wait, but they simply didn’t show up for the final game, being unable to respond to the speed and sheer enthusiasm the Rangers played with. Both teams got a combined six power play opportunities, doing nothing with that advantage.
The Rangers are going to play either in Los Angeles or Chicago to start off the finals series next week on Wedensday, no matter if the Western Conference Finals end in six or seven games. They won both their games against the Blackhawks this season (they’re behind 2-3 in the series), and split their two meeting with the Los Angeles Kings.