The Vancouver Canucks just won't go away, and neither will the New York Rangers' Stanley Cup Curse.
Vancouver, 5-0 when facing elimination this postseason, forced a seventh game of the finals by winning 4-1 Saturday night and extended the Rangers' 54-year wait by three more days.The Rangers hope it's only a matter of days. The Canucks can make New York wait until next season again by winning Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. If that happens, it would go down as one of the biggest chokes in NHL history, with the Rangers joining the 1942 Detroit Red Wings as the only teams to blow 3-1 leads in the finals.
Jeff Brown and Geoff Courtnall scored twice each for Vancouver, seeking its first title since joining the NHL in 1970.
"We felt good about our game coming out of New York and we thought we'd try to continue that same pattern," Canucks coach Pat Quinn said. "We wanted to see if we could establish some pressure on their defense. We play a pressure game that's not as aggressive as the Rangers' pressure game."
It will be the first seven-game finals since 1987, when the Edmonton Oilers beat the Philadelphia Flyers, and the second in 23 years. Nine championship series have gone the route since the best-of-7 format was introduced in 1939, with home teams winning seven times.
The Canucks have already proven they can win at the Garden, taking Games 1 and 5 there.
Brown and Courtnall have snapped out of scoring slumps in a big way. Brown had only one goal in his previous 19 games before scoring three times in the last two. After a 13-game scoreless streak, Courtnall has two goals in each of the last two games.
The Canucks, who played well in the third period of Game 5, opened Saturday's game with their most dominant period of the series. They outshot the Rangers 16-7 and kept the puck in New York ice most of the 20 minutes.
Vancouver also outhit the Rangers. In the first 21/2 minutes, Brian Leetch was hammered into the boards by Pavel Bure and Sergio Momesso. Bure, one of the smallest Canucks, also had big hits on Esa Tikkanen, Kevin Lowe and Alexei Kovalev in the period.
If not for the acrobatic goaltending of Mike Richter, who finished with 27 saves, the Rangers would have been hopelessly behind.
Brown restored Vancouver's two-goal lead at 8:35 of the third period when his slapper from the right point found a small opening between Richter's pads.
Courtnall clinched it with 1:32 left scoring on a backhander that was in and out of the net so quickly that play continued and Mark Messier scored for New York with 58 seconds left. But the officials viewed replays and correctly awarded Courtnall a goal. That put 34 seconds back on the clock and nullified Messier's score.
"We thought it was in and I think everybody did. Those types of things happen," Quinn said. "The goal judge didn't miss it, the on-ice guys did."
Kirk McLean had 28 saves.