The New York Rangers have released their Fans Most Wanted lists, including best Rangers goalies, moments, rivalries, and more.
One of the most exciting and memorable categories has to be top Rangers goals.
Hockey fans revel in the big wins, the spectacular saves, the bone-head trades, and the big checks, but nothing ignites the fire of nostalgia like the sight of the puck rippling the mesh.
Madison Square Garden explores nine of the top Rangers goals in a photo gallery, but there are only five that truly make the heart race for that memorable night at the game or in front of the TV.
Nights like those sear the soul of New York Rangers fans, forever providing a space of glory to nestle comfortably until the next big goal comes along.
Here are the top most exciting and important goals since the Rangers last Stanley Cup in 1994:
5. Adam Graves' wraparound, 1997
This would be the last time the Rangers made the playoffs for eight years— almost a decade.
My whole childhood disappeared without a playoff appearance.
These were the days when MSG was on channel 33 on Long Island.
Adam Graves' goal was the last big goal I actually remember seeing.
A little past fourteen minutes into overtime, Graves shrugged his way past hated rival Scott Stevens and beat Brodeur for the clincher, beating the Devils and giving the Rangers a 4-1 series win.
The goal of course was reminiscent of Stephane Matteau's wraparound goal in the 1994 playoffs, so certain hopes were carried on the stick of Graves as the Rangers entered the third round.
They lost to the Flyers four games to one.
4. Esa Tikkanen's blast, 1997
Tikkannen scored three game winning goals against the rival Florida Panthers and ex-Ranger great John Vanbiesbrouck.
I remember watching Vanbiesbrouck and Richter embrace after the series, and thinking what other sport has this type of powerful tradition?
I also remember thinking that the Rangers had just missed taking game three from the Panthers when Esa hit the crossbar in overtime.
That is, until the puck was shuttled into a players' bench, and the Rangers' players started pleading their case.
Tikkannen's rocket had been slapped so hard that it hit the goal cam and bounced straight back into play.
The referees made the right call, the Rangers left the ice, and the Panthers remained, bewildered.
3. Marek Malik's Miracle, 2005
There are a lot of Malik haters out there, but check out his shootout goal against the Washington Capitals.
Not only was the shot a "circus shot," but also it came from the stick of Malik, 15 rounds into the longest shootout in NHL history.
Usually a stay-at-home defensman, Malik must have figured, what the hell, and put the puck and his stick between his legs and roofed one over the shoulder of Olaf Kolzig, putting it to the opposite side from where he skated.
Besides the difficulty, creativity, and sheer surprise, this goal meant more to Rangers' fans than a big goal: The team was finally a true competitor.
They wanted to be a playoff team.
They fought through 15 rounds, and even tied it up when role player Jason Strudwick banged one home the round before.
Fans may hate Malik now, but they will love his goal forever.
2. Mark Messier's winners, 1994
This one is actually a combination of four goals.
The first three manifest themselves in Messier's natural hat trick in the third period against the New Jersey Devils to clinch game six, 4-2.
That game combined with the fourth big Messier goal— the Stanley Cup winner—makes Messier's 1994 playoff goals stand at number two.
"Now I can Die in Peace."
1. Stephane Matteau's namesake, 1994
Don't forget that he scored the game winner in overtime number two in game three. Without that goal.
All Rangers' fans know that Matteau, Matteau, Matteau, scored the game-winning goal in the decisive game seven against the Devs on a wraparound to beat Broduer and pave the way to their first cup in 54-years.
Four minutes and twenty-four seconds into the second overtime, Matteau swooped in to get the puck in the right corner of the offensive zone, skated behind the net and shoveled one in.
Thanks for the memories.