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A look back at when Rangers last won in Vancouver

by Dave Lozo
The last time the New York Rangers went into Vancouver and beat the Canucks was Oct. 11, 1997. Wayne Gretzky registered his 50th career hat trick as the Rangers emerged with a 6-3 victory.

A little more than 14 years later, the Rangers will get a chance to end that slide when they face the Canucks on Tuesday night.

Seeing as how they're not in the same conference, it's not as if the Rangers have played in Vancouver three times a year for 14 years, but it's still a long time to go without beating a team in its barn. The losing streak itself is just five games and due to scheduling quirks, the Rangers didn't play a game in Vancouver between 2002 and 2008. The Canucks have outscored the Rangers 16-6 in those games, and another win Tuesday night will mean this streak will technically span three decades.

Here are some interesting facts, figures, tidbits and insights about this drought for the Rangers (or this epic streak for the Canucks, if you lean that way):

1. Mark Messier, who will be forever loved in New York for carrying the Rangers to a Stanley Cup in 1994, had just left the team in the offseason to sign a free-agent deal with the Canucks. Playing in just his fourth game with the Canucks, Messier scored against his former team on his only shot of the game. In his three seasons with the Canucks, Messier topped out at 60 points and never reached the postseason.


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2. Messier wasn't the only member of the 1994 Cup-winning Rangers team playing for the Canucks in that game. Brian Noonan, who had 4 goals for the Rangers in that playoff run, was a minus-4 against his old team. Four Canucks who played in that game -- Donald Brashear, Pavel Bure, Markus Naslund and Kirk McLean -- would become Rangers later in their careers.

3. Of the 40 players who dressed for that game in 1997, only three remain in the NHL. Defensemen Mattias Ohlund and Steve Staios were members of the Canucks at the time. Staios is currently a member of the New York Islanders, while Ohlund plays for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The only member of the Rangers who is still in the League is Marc Savard, who is part of the Boston Bruins but will miss the entire season due to lingering concussion problems.

4. When the Rangers got that win in 1997, it came in the building in which they will play Tuesday. But what's known as Rogers Arena today was called GM Place back then. The building was just 2 years old at the time, and has since hosted an Olympics (when the building was renamed Canada Hockey Place) and Stanley Cup Final.

5. Gretzky wasn't the only player to register a hat trick on Oct. 11, 1997. John LeClair of the Philadelphia Flyers had 3 goals and 2 assists in a 6-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens. Other notables who scored on a night with nine games: Jeremy Roenick, Joe Sakic, Eric Lindros, Dave Andreychuk, Jaromir Jagr, Ron Francis, Ray Bourque, Brett Hull and Al MacInnis.

6. Want to feel old? Let's take a look at some of the songs that were on top of the U.S. Billboard charts at the time this game was played:

* The No. 1 single in the country was "Candle in the Wind" by Elton John. (In case you're freaking out about how old this song is, this was the version that was played after Princess Diana died, not the original that was released in 1974 and re-released as a live version in 1986)
* The No. 1 album in the country was "Evolution" by Boyz II Men.
* The No. 1 song in terms of radio airplay was "Foolish Games" by Jewel (I bet this list is tearing you, it's tearing you, it's tearing you apart …)
* The No. 1 song in adult top 40 was "All For You" by Sister Hazel.
* The No. 1 song in adult contemporary was "How Do I Live" by Leann Rimes.
* The No. 1 country single was "How Your Love Makes Me Feel" by Diamond Rio.
* The No. 1 rap single was "Up Jumps Da Boogie" by Timbaland & Magoo.

7. The three biggest box office draws of the week were "The Devil's Own" with Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford, "Donnie Brasco" with Al Pacino and Johnny Depp, and "Sling Blade" with Billy Bob Thornton.

8. The top four shows on television were all on NBC -- "Seinfeld," "ER," "Veronica's Closet," and "Friends."

9. The last time the Rangers won in Vancouver, the Dow Jones Industrial Average opened at 8,061.42. At year's end, the Dow finished above 7,000 for the first time ever. This morning it opened at 11,643.35.

10. Country music star John Denver died in a plane crash the following day. Audra Lindley, best known as Mrs. Roper on "Three's Company," died six days later.

11. The first-round picks for each team at the 1997 Entry Draft -- Stefan Cherneski to the Rangers and Brad Ference to the Canucks. The top-five picks that year were Joe Thornton to the Bruins, Patrick Marleau to the Sharks, Olli Jokinen to the Kings, Roberto Luongo to the Islanders and Eric Brewer again to the Islanders.

12. The 1998 Academy Awards were hosted by Billy Crystal. "Titanic," the story of a homeless boy and teenage girl on a boat, won 11 awards, including Best Picture. Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt won Best Actor and Best Actress for "As Good As It Gets." Robin Williams took home Best Supporting Actor for "Good Will Hunting" while Kim Basinger won Best Supporting Actress for "L.A. Confidential."

13. Jaromir Jagr would win his first of four straight Art Ross Trophies in 1998 by posting 102 points with the Penguins. Other award winners for the 1997-98 season:

* Hart -- Dominik Hasek, Sabres
* Vezina -- Dominik Hasek, Sabres
* Norris -- Rob Blake, Kings
* Calder -- Sergei Samsonov, Bruins
* Lady Byng -- Ron Francis, Penguins

14. Just how long has it been since the Rangers won in Vancouver? Flannel has gone from fashionable to unfashionable and back to fashionable again.

15. In an attempt to really depress you and end this on a down note, the cost of a gallon of gas was about $1.25. It varies from place to place, but the average cost for a gallon of gas today is about $3.60.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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