NEW YORK -- An off day in the Eastern Conference Final between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens only can mean one thing.
It's time for two fan favorites who once starred for the Rangers to go head-to-head in a bubble hockey showdown for off-ice supremacy at the NHL Powered by Reebok Store. That's exactly the type of entertainment forward Ron Duguay and defenseman Jeff Beukeboom provided Friday afternoon.
Duguay, who warned Beukeboom prior to faceoff that he owned a bubble hockey table at home, came away with a 5-4 victory. The event was made extra special when longtime Rangers anthem singer John Amirante sang the Canadian and U.S. national anthems.
Amirante still going strong
NEW YORK -- New York Rangers
anthem singer John Amirante said it's always something special and new each time he steps to the microphone to sing before thousands of fans at Madison Square Garden.
The Bronx-born Amirante was on hand Friday at the NHL Powered by Reebok Store to sing the Canadian and American national anthems prior to a bubble hockey game between former Rangers Jeff Beukeboom
and Ron Duguay
Amirante's most memorable moments at The Garden?
"The first time I walked out there and onto the ice in November of 1980 against the Los Angeles Kings
," Amirante said. "It was a loss, but they kept me. I guess they said we're going to keep this guy until they start winning."
He said he'll never forget the roar of the crowd prior to Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Final.
"I can't explain it in words and what it was like walking out there," Amirante said. "I was on Cloud 9. I always have that feeling of victory whenever I sing the anthem before a game, especially when it comes to my own team."
-- Mike G. Morreale
"If the Rangers reach the Stanley Cup, we'll have a rematch," Duguay said afterward.
The Rangers lead the best-of-7 series 2-1. Game 4 is Sunday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
Duguay acknowledged he was a tad concerned in the final minute of the game when Beukeboom scored two quick goals to cut the deficit to 5-4.
"When a team comes bouncing back you can feel the pressure, and I started to panic," he said. "But sure enough we ran out of time, and that was a good thing for me."
Beukeboom said, "I couldn't get my goalie off the ice for an extra attacker."
After their bubble hockey game, the former players took some time to talk about the real hockey being played.
"The momentum Montreal gained with the win [in Game 3] is the confidence they have in their goaltender [Dustin Tokarski], since you need goaltending and they weren't sure of this kid and he came up with a big game," Duguay said. "Moving forward they know that as long as they give themselves a chance as a team that they have the goalie who will come up with the big saves at the right time."
Beukeboom said he feels momentum in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is gained game-to-game and isn't necessarily convinced Montreal has swung the direction of the series after its 3-2 overtime victory Thursday.
He also said forward Dominic Moore has been great for the Rangers this postseason.
"I'm a big Ryan McDonagh and Henrik Lundqvist fan, but Moore has done everything in his power to help his team succeed and done all the little things that sometimes go unnoticed," he said.
Duguay said Lundqvist is the team's most valuable player to this point.
"At the right time he's kept the puck out of the net," Duguay said. "The only goals they're scoring have come on tip-ins, and he's in their heads that they have to do something different and special to be able to score. That makes it difficult, especially if you get into a hole by a couple of goals. Lundqvist, I believe, is in their head more than any other player."
Duguay, who serves as a television analyst for MSG Network, was asked if Lundqvist needs to have a Stanley Cup on his resume to be considered the best goaltender in Rangers history.
"If you ask him I think he would give you that answer: 'Yes,'" Duguay said. "Mike Richter was a darn good goaltender and he's got a Stanley Cup and he made a big difference in that Stanley Cup push [in 1994]. So a goalie has to win those big games for you in the playoffs."
However, Beukeboom isn't ready to compare the goalie from his Rangers team to the one backstopping this season's version.
"It's not always a fair analogy to say you have to win a championship because Lundqvist has won a gold medal and he's proven that he's an elite player in the world," Beukeboom said. "Where would the Rangers be without him in the last three games against the Pittsburgh Penguins? I thought he was New York's best player in that series.
"I played and won a Cup [in 1994] with Richter and he's a good friend of mine, so I can't really compare. If you were to ask a teammate of Lundqvist's, they'd say the same thing. But it's great to have those arguments. Bottom line is if you're debating between Richter and Lundqvist, that means they're both great."
What do the Rangers need to do in Game 4 to put the Canadiens in a 3-1 series hole?
"They just have to stay away from getting too emotionally hyped up," Duguay said. "They got a little out of their game when [Brandon] Prust hit [Derek] Stepan. I don't mind them playing a little angry, but you still want them to be even-keeled as far as their temperament goes. You want to see them play hard, finish checks and do those things, but you can't get caught up in what goes on after the whistle."