Both teams took a difficult path to the Finals.
The Canucks had faced a 3-1 deficit against the Calgary Flames, but then won the final three games in overtime. The decisive contest ended in double overtime, with Pavel Bure scoring the winning goal on a breakaway. They then beat the Dallas Stars and Toronto Maple Leafs in five games each to capture the Western Conference title.
The Rangers swept the New York Islanders and beat the Washington Capitals in five games, before falling behind 3 games to 2 in the the Eastern Conference Final against New Jersey. They then won game 6 by a 4-2 score after Mark Messier publically guaranteed a victory and then scored a hat trick, and won game 7 2-1 on Stephane Matteau's goal in double overtime. It was Matteau's second overtime goal of the series.
The Rangers scored early in game 1 and led 2-1 late in the 3rd period before Martin Gelinas tied the game with 1:00 to play in regulation time. It was the third time in eight games that the Rangers had surrendered a last-minute tying goal. The Rangers were all over the Canucks in overtime, but goaltender Kirk McLean played spectacularly, making 52 saves on the night. In the last minute of the 1st overtime, Brian Leetch pinched and took a shot that hit the cross-bar and the Canucks went back the other way on an odd-man rush and Greg Adams scored to claim the game for the Canucks. The Rangers evened the series with a 3-1 victory in Game 2 before the series shifted west.
The Canucks came storming out in front of their home fans in Game 3 and Pavel Bure scored on his first shift to give them the early lead. But late in the period, with the score tied 1-1, Bure accidentally hit Jay Wells in the face with his stick and cut him, leading to a major penalty and Bure's expulsion from the game. Glenn Anderson scored on the ensuing power-play and then cruised to a 5-1 victory. In Game 4, the Canucks again jumped out to an early lead, this time 2-0, before Mike Richter and Brian Leetch took over the game. Richter made some key saves to keep the game within reach, including one on a penalty shot against Pavel Bure, and Leetch picked up a goal and three assists as the Rangers won 4-2 and headed back home with a commanding 3-1 series lead.
Most who entered Madison Square Garden for the fifth game thought they were going to see the Rangers win the Cup that night, but the Canucks had overcome a 3-1 deficit already in the 1994 playoffs and held a 1-0 lead after 2 periods. They extended it to 3-0 early in the 3rd before the Rangers stormed back with 3 goals in 6 minutes to tie the game. It looked like the momentum had shifted, but just 29 seconds after Mark Messier's tying goal, Dave Babych scored to regain the lead for the Canucks. They added 2 more in a wild 8-goal 3rd period to win 6-3 and take the series back home with a chance to tie it.
The Canucks fired 14 shots at Mike Richter in the first period of Game 6 and led 1-0 on a Jeff Brown bullet from the point. The score was 2-1 after 2 periods before another Brown goal gave the Canucks a 3-1 3rd period lead. Late in the 3rd, Geoff Courtnall appeared to score for the Canucks, but the play continued and the Rangers scored to temporarily make the score 3-2. But, in the ensuing video review, it was confirmed that Courtnall had indeed scored his 2nd goal of the game to clinch the game for the Canucks and send the series to a seventh game.
On June 14, 1994, the Canucks and Rangers played only the second Game 7 of a Stanley Cup Final since 1971. The Rangers were all over the Canucks in the first period and took a 2-0 lead on goals by Brian Leetch and Adam Graves. In the second period, the Canucks finally came to life, thanks to a brilliant individual effort from team captain Trevor Linden, who beat two Rangers and Mike Richter on a delayed penalty to cut the deficit to 2-1. But, after a couple of questionable (in the opinion of Canucks coach Pat Quinn) penalty calls against the Canucks by referee Terry Gregson, Mark Messier scored a power-play marker late in the 2nd to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead. In the 3rd period, the Canucks really began to attack. Pavel Bure just about broke in alone but was pulled down by Esa Tikkanen and on the ensuing power-play, Trevor Linden scored his 2nd of the night to bring the Canucks back to within a goal. After that, Mike Richter was called upon to make several spectacular saves. With about six minutes to play, Nathan Lafayette hit the goal post, but the Canucks didn't manage to score again, and the Rangers managed to hold on and win the Cup.
ESPN (United States, except New York City market and in border cities): Gary Thorne, Bill Clement.
CBC (Canada-English): Bob Cole, Harry Neale, Dick Irvin, Jr.
MSG (New York market): Sam Rosen, John Davidson.
- "1.6 away from the Cup, Pavel Bure...IT'S OVER!! THE RANGERS WIN THE CUP! THE RANGERS WIN THE CUP! THE CURSE IS OVER! They done it!" - Gary Thorne
- "The waiting is over! THE NEW YORK RANGERS ARE THE STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS! AND THIS ONE WILL LAST A LIFETIME!"- Sam Rosen
- "The New York Rangers have done it here ON A HOT JUNE NIGHT IN NEW YORK! THE RANGERS ARE STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS!"- Bob Cole
- "The New York Rangers have won the Stanley Cup. Something that most people would not think they would here in their lifetime." - Marv Albert
1993-94 New York Rangers
Mark Messier (captain), Brian Leetch, Kevin Lowe, Adam Graves, Steve Larmer, Glenn Anderson, Jeff Beukeboom, Greg Gilbert, Mike Hartman, Glenn Healy, Mike Hudson, Alexander Karpovtsev, Joe Kocur, Alexei Kovalev, Nick Kypreos, Doug Lidster, Stephane Matteau, Craig MacTavish, Sergei Nemchinov, Brian Noonan, Ed Olczyk, Mike Richter, Esa Tikkanen, Jay Wells, Sergei Zubov, Mike Keenan (coach), Neil Smith (general manager)