The New York Ranger fans were in a party mood, which was just what the Vancouver Canucks needed.
With a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup finals and playing at home in friendly Madison Square Garden, the Rangers were primed to capture their first title in 54 years. And their fans were ready to celebrate.Instead, just as Vancouver coach Pat Quinn had promised, the Canucks seemed to feed off the energy provided by the crowd Thursday night and took a 6-3 victory, sending the series back to Vancouver for Game 6.
"It was a motivating factor for us," Canucks captain Trevor Linden said of the Garden atmosphere. "The party doesn't start until we have our say.
"All the talk about the party and the parade that was going to go on, that was enough. It was what we needed. We knew that from hearing it on the news so we bonded together. It really brought our team closer."
The stage had been set for a party at boistrous Madison Square Garden, where the Rangers aimed to win their first Stanley Cup since 1940 before their charged-up fans.
The Canucks had other plans, though.
"There are a lot of things that motivate you," Vancouver's Sergio Momesso said. "You don't want to go down in five (games) or lose.
"You're still playing for the Cup. A lot of people wrote us off. Fan-wise or media-wise, here they had the party going. We had a lot of things to prove, we have a lot of character. We weren't going to give up."
"We were happy to spoil their parade," Vancouver Canucks defenseman Jeff Brown said.
When Esa Tikkanen scored from the blue line at 10:06 of the first period, it sparked a swelling roar from the fans. The roar soon turned to groans, however, when linesman Randy Mitton called an offside on Stephane Matteau and negated the goal.
What happened thereafter hurt the Rangers even more. Jeff Beukeboom, their toughest defenseman, was thrown out for being third man in in a fight.
Beukeboom's absence was especially noticeable in the wide-open third period when the Canucks scored five goals to tie a Stanley Cup finals record for most goals in one period. The Rangers scored three times and the combined total of eight goals also tied a finals record.