Penguins Eliminate Favored Rangers
PITTSBURGH - They had no Lemieux, no Mullen, and it seemed no chance against the NHL's regular-season champions. But the Pittsburgh Penguins had the New York Rangers' number - and it was 1940.
Jaromir Jagr put Pittsburgh ahead with yet another remarkable goal and Shawn McEachern followed with his first NHL goal last night as the Penguins repeated as Patrick Division champs, eliminating the Rangers 5-1 in Game 6.
The Penguins, who had never won a division title until last year, now have won two straight and will be rematched with the Boston Bruins in the Wales Conference finals beginning Sunday.
Despite injuries to two of their top three scorers, Mario Lemieux and Joey Mullen, the Penguins came back from a 2-1 series deficit. Earlier, they rallied from a 3-1 disadvantage to beat the NHL's No. 2 team, the Washington Capitals, in the division semifinals.
"We knew everybody thought we were done after Mario and Joey got hurt, but we didn't believe it," center Ron Francis said.
Pittsburgh teammate Kevin Stevens said, "Winning the Stanley Cup last year was the ultimate, but this was close. To win with the guys we had out? It's unbelievable what this team can do when it sets its mind to it. We didn't have our best, but we beat their best."
It was one for the history books - and another in a five-decade history of Ranger disappointments as the NHL regular-season champions again failed to win their first Stanley Cup since 1940.
The Rangers had come off their best season since 1972 with a 105-point record (50-25-5) in the Patrick Division that led the league. They were the favorites going into the playoffs.
But they followed a trend of other losing division winners, becoming the fourth to be ousted.
Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.