Sergei Zubov moved the puck up the right boards, and Steve Larmer cleared it down. Pavel Bure was giving chase but then stopped his stride, leaning his stick on his knees, seemingly resigned to the end. It was, by every indication, all over - the game, the series, 54 years of waiting.
Then, that whistle. Icing. One last defensive-zone faceoff. And 54 years of waiting would have to last 1.6 seconds more.
Terry Gregson had a unique vantage point on that game and that call and that unforgettable night at Madison Square Garden. Gregson didn't call the icing: He was the lone referee that evening, working the seventh game of a Stanley Cup Final for the first - and only - time in a career that spanned a quarter of a century and eight Stanley Cup Finals. Once this one was over, and now that 25 years have passed, he can laugh about that one last linesman's whistle. But on June 14, 1994, it was less of a laughing matter.
"I know some Ranger fans could have killed Kevin Collins for calling that last icing to prolong the game," Gregson said in an interview with NYRangers.com. That's where he could laugh, adding: "That's okay, though, because I could have killed him too."
Of course, an extra 1.6 seconds wasn't going to alter the course of destiny that night. Craig MacTavish tied up Bure on that final faceoff, the puck skittered to the safety of the corner, and the Rangers and the packed house at the Garden finally could unleash the delirious joy that had been bottled up, waiting to erupt, since 1940. Twenty-five years ago today, the Rangers completed that magical run to the Stanley Cup.