1988, Joe Paterson vs. Gerald Diduck, in a bloody fight.
1998, Darren Langdon vs. Marty McSorley, in a marathon bout.
By JOE LAPOINTE. The New York Times. February 3, 1998.
Despite entering tonight's game with a five-game streak without a victory and a ninth-place standing in the Eastern Conference, the Rangers still held reasonable hope for a respectable pre-Olympic road trip and a fair chance for one of the eight playoff berths in the conference.
A victory over the Sharks would mean 3 points in the first three games of their six-game tour. And it would keep the Rangers 3 points behind eighth-place Buffalo, which beat Tampa Bay earlier in the evening.
The night started well, with the Rangers taking a 3-0 lead on goals by the three players who started on the fourth line. Mike Eastwood scored in the first period, Kevin Stevens in the second and P. J. Stock in the third, the first goal of his National Hockey League career. But San Jose cut the lead to 3-1 at 5 minutes 29 seconds of the third period on a goal by Bernie Nicholls, and then to 3-2 at 9:59 on a goal by Owen Nolan.
With the help of their penalty killers and some terrific saves by Mike Richter, the Rangers held on for a 3-2 victory. The Sharks had two power plays in the final 10 minutes, but they were even more dangerous at even strength. Sprawling and lunging, Richter managed to keep anything else from crossing the goal line.
Ulf Samuelsson, the Rangers defenseman who will play for Sweden in the Olympics, left the game in the second period with a hyperextended right knee. No prognosis for his return was immediately known.
The Rangers scored the only goal of the first period and the only goal of the second. Getting the first was Eastwood, who had been a healthy scratch in all but one game in January. He scored on a rebound at 15:20 after Bill Berg's shot was stopped by goalie Kelly Hrudey during a three-on-one break. The Rangers made it 2-0 on a power-play goal by Stevens at 10:09 of the second period. Wayne Gretzky set it up, and Mike Keane got the other assist after clearing space with a perfect moving pick block.
Late in the second period, the Rangers played two men short for two full minutes. Although the Sharks threatened, they could not beat Richter.
Injured and prone on the ice briefly in the first period was the Rangers' Darren Langdon, who crashed into the corner boards while racing for a loose puck with Marcus Ragnarsson, who may have tripped him. Langdon got up, flexed his left knee and returned for his next shift.
Early in the second period, when the two skated in the same area, Langdon jostled Ragnarsson and rubbed a glove in his face. On Langdon's next shift, he dropped the gloves with Marty McSorley, San Jose's best fistfighter. The officials allowed them to engage in a long, brutal fight that left McSorley bleeding from the nose.
Langdon is known mostly for fisticuffs, but he had scored his first two goals of the season in the previous two games, a tie in Ottawa and a defeat in Boston. He discussed his scoring before tonight's game.
"I'm playing the way I usually play," Langdon said. "I'm getting a few more shifts and getting into the game a little more. You get a few more hits. As for the goals, I don't know what to say. Maybe I've got a little more confidence. I'm not a goal scorer. But whether I score or not, I'd like for our team to get a couple wins."
Langdon leads the Rangers in one statistic: penalty minutes, with 143 after his fight. In accordance with the code of hockey culture, it is common for him to fight the best brawler on every opposing team. On Saturday, Langdon took on Ken Baumgartner of the Bruins in a long bout. Earlier this season, he fought Tie Domi of Toronto.
When the fight with Baumgartner ended, the television camera clearly showed Baumgartner saying to Langdon, "Good one." After his fight with Domi was broken up by the linesman, Domi reached over and gave Langdon a friendly tap on the helmet to acknowledge Langdon's performance.
"Most fighters are nice guys, and I respect them," Langdon said. "I usually say 'good job' almost every time, no matter what happens, unless someone gives a cheap shot. And that doesn't usually happen with tough guys. They are all pretty honest fighters. When the fight is over, the two of us have done our jobs. There's no bad feelings after that. You just go and play your game. Even after the game, you might go out for a beer. It's an honor for me to be fighting these guys. I like doing it."
Langdon, a 27-year-old from Deer Lake, Newfoundland, was signed by the Rangers as a free agent in 1993. In his last season as a junior, with Summerside, he had 441 penalty minutes. With Dayton in the minor East Coast league, he had 429. Last season with the Rangers, he had 195, a total that he will probably break this season.