Hurt by the mistakes of top players Pavel Bure and Kirk McLean, the Vancouver Canucks returned home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup finals to the New York Rangers.
Bure was ejected after high-sticking Jay Wells in the face and McLean put the puck into his own net as the Rangers won 5-1 Saturday night to go up two games to one in the best-of-7 series.Brian Leetch scored twice and Mike Richter made 24 saves for the Rangers, who had temporarily surrendered the home-ice edge by losing the opener. If they win Game 4 here Tuesday night, they'll have the chance to wrap up the series Thursday at home as they try to win the Cup for the first time since 1940.
The most physical and contentious game of the series turned out to be the most decisive loss of the playoffs for the Canucks, whose five-game home winning streak was snapped.
Vancouver was leading 1-0 on Bure's first goal of the series when McLean, who stopped 89 of 93 shots in the first two games and stole Game 1 with a 52-save performance, steered Leetch's shot into the net 13:39 into the game.
Then, with the Canucks on a power play at 18:21, Bure bloodied Wells and referee Andy vanHellemond assessed the automatic five-minute major and game misconduct penalties. Fifty-eight seconds later, Glenn Anderson scored his second consecutive game-winner.
Bure led the NHL with 60 regular-season goals and has a league-high 14 in the playoffs.
Leetch, the Rangers' only offensive-minded defenseman because top regular-season scorer Sergei Zubov was out with a chest injury, scored on a rebound in the second period. And the Rangers put the game away with third-period goals by Steve Larmer and Alexei Kovalev.
It was the first time in 18 games and only the second time in the postseason that McLean has allowed more than four goals.
Richter, meanwhile, held the Canucks to one goal for the second straight game in clearly outplaying McLean for the first time all series. He allowed only Bure's breakaway goal 1:03 into the game.
McLean seemed to be in control when Leetch, simply trying to keep possession in Vancouver ice, flipped the puck toward the net. McLean got down on one knee and prepared to steer the puck to the corner, but it hit McLean's right skate and trickled between his pads.
The Canucks still looked in good shape when Leetch was penalized at 17:56 - meaning the Rangers had to kill the penalty without Leetch and Zubov, their best two defensemen.
But Bure and Wells came together near the right boards and Bure, trying to lift Wells' stick with his own, jerked his stick into Wells' face.
With the teams skating four a side, Sergei Nemchinov shot from the slot and Anderson, who was facing center ice, deflected the puck through his legs and between McLean's pads to put New York ahead for good.
New York made it 3-1 in the second when McLean stopped Esa Tikkanen's shot but gave up a long rebound. Leetch swept in from the point, got control of the puck and backhanded it over the goalie.
Larmer scored 25 seconds into the third period when his backhander from between the faceoff circles hit Canucks John McIntyre and Dave Babych and dribbled between McLean's pads. Kovalev followed with a breakaway goal at 13:03.