A blog focusing on the New York Rangers and all things hockey (also Yankees and Giants) with a New York attitude from a fan of 40 years whose greatest highlight came when Mark Messier lifting the Stanley Cup on June 14, 1994
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The longest Rangers' game of my lifetime brought back a flood of memories from that night in 1971 when Pete Stemkowski scored the Rangers' last triple overtime goal.
I was 12 years old and already listening to Marv Albert and Bill Chadwick call Rangers' games on the radio, but my dad wouldn't let me listen past the first overtime because it was too late on a school night.
Stemkowski scored at 1:29 of the third overtime to give the Rangers a 3-2 victory against the Blackhawks and force a seventh gane in the semifinal series, which New York lost.
Flash forward 41 years to the fourth-longest game in Rangers' history and the longest in 73 years. Marian Gaborik, meet the Stemmer, the Polish Prince.
Gaborik, who had scored only one goal in the first nine games of the playoffs, finally showed up. Oh, boy, did he ever.
Gaborik, who assisted on Ryan Callahan's power-play goal in the second period, took a centering pass from Brad Richards and beat Braden Holtby at 14:41 of the third overtime to give the Rangers a 2-1 win and a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
The Rangers also snapped their seven-game overtime losing streak, dating to game three of the 2007 Eastern Conference semifinals when Michal Rozsival scored in double overtime to beat the Sabres.
As fate would have it, Stemkowki was the intermission guest between the second and third overtime on the Rangers' radio broadcast.
As play-by-play man Kenny Albert said, Stemmer magic rubbed off on Gaborik. How's that for a certain symmetry -- Kenny's father, Marv, called the triple overtime game in 1971.
This blog has often criticized the Rangers for their lack of offense and finishing ability and Wednesday's contest was at times intensely frustrating to watch as the Rangers had so many shots blocked by a Capitals' team that has dramatically altered its identity.
But this much must be said about the Rangers: they have a ton of resolve and mental toughness, which is still no guarantee that they will win the Cup.
Wednesday was a gut wrenching and emotionally exhausting affair that ended at 12:14 a.m.
Fortunately, the teams have two days off before the Capitals host game four on Saturday afternoon. The players -- and fans - need it to sufficiently recover from the first triple overtime contest of these playoffs.