Mike Richter had the New Jersey Devils' number during the regular season. Nothing has changed in the playoffs, except the New York Rangers' goalie has added a barehand stop to his repertoire.
Richter capped a 32-save performance by using his catching glove, blocker, stick and finally hand to stop John MacLean breaking in alone from the right circle. Richter's heroics and Brian Leetch's power-play goal helped the Rangers tie the best-of-7 series 1-1 with a 2-0 victory Sunday.The Rangers showed a nasty streak in Game 2 after falling 2-0 in the opener to nemesis Martin Brodeur.
Game 3 is Tuesday night in New York.
"Mike played extremely well, and that's the type of goaltending we've become accustomed to," said Rangers forward Adam Graves, a part of the penalty-killing unit that thwarted seven New Jersey power plays, including two two-man advantages. "He's a huge part of our hockey team, as Brodeur is a huge part of the Devils. It makes for a great series when you have (goaltending) like that."
Both goalies have been outstanding in a series where neither team has scored an even-strength goal.
However, Richter has been under much more pressure than Brodeur. He stopped 64 of 65 shots - the other was an empty-net goal - in the two games at the Continental Airlines Arena.
The save on MacLean was spectacular. The Devils' forward got the puck alone in the right circle with about 65 seconds to play after a miscue by the Rangers' defense and skated across the front of the crease.
Richter went with him and lost his stick, catching glove and blocker as he sprawled in front of the net. MacLean shot and Richter stopped it with his hand. Graves then fired the puck out of the zone.
Russ Courtnall eventually got the puck along the right boards and slid it into an empty net with 45 seconds to play.
"The last save is indicative of the last two games," said Rangers defenseman Bruce Driver, formerly with New Jersey. "Making a save barehanded, no glove, no stick. He's getting like (Dominik) Hasek. It will certainly go down as one of the biggest saves of the playoffs."
Richter also came up big in the first period when the Devils got three power plays and outshot New York 16-4. The best chances were on long shots by Steve Thomas, Bill Guerin and defenseman Shawn Chambers.
The only shot that got past Richter on Sunday came late in the second period on a deflection by Thomas. However, a video review showed Thomas was in the crease and the crowd's cheers were quickly silenced.
"As a goalie you can't affect how many shots will come at you," said Richter, who had a 2-1-2 regular-season record against the Devils despite facing 190 shots. "You just have to be prepared to stop them. In a close series like this, every shot counts."
Leetch had the one shot that really counted in Game 2, scoring on a great setup by Wayne Gretzky with 1:39 left in the first period. It came less than a minute after Mark Messier seemed to wake up the Rangers with a cross check to the face of Doug Gilmour while New York was on a power play.
"There are no messages being sent here," Messier said. "It's just a matter of execution because both teams are so familiar with each other."
Messier said he didn't even realize who he hit.
Gilmour, who went after Messier near the end of the period, tried to downplay the hit.
"It's something that happens. We'll take it from there," he said.
No penalty was called, and the Rangers converted on their power play seconds later with Guerin in the box for charging.
Red Wings 3, Mighty Ducks 2, 3OT
Vyacheslav Kozlov scored a power-play goal 1:34 into the third overtime as host Detroit beat Anaheim for a 2-0 lead in a Western Conference semifinal series.
It was the second straight overtime loss for the Mighty Ducks, who before this series had never lost a road overtime game, going 8-0-15 during their four-year history.
It was Detroit's longest overtime playoff game since March 27, 1960, when Toronto defeated the Red Wings 5-4.
Games 3 and 4 will be played in Anaheim, where the Mighty Ducks have lost only once in their last 18 games.
Steve Yzerman and Doug Brown also scored for Detroit, which hasn't won a Stanley Cup in 42 years. Jari Kurri and Teemu Selanne scored for the Mighty Ducks, who were 3-0-1 against Detroit during the regular season.
Avalanche 4, Oilers 1
In Denver, Valeri Kamensky and Claude Lemieux scored second-period goals and Patrick Roy made 42 saves as Colorado beat Edmonton to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.
Games 3 and 4 are Wednesday and Friday in Edmonton.
Kamensky's sixth playoff goal and Lemieux's seventh - tops in the postseason - broke a 1-1 tie.
Roy, who stopped the Oilers three times on breakaways, extended his NHL record for playoff victories by a goalie to 92.