Clemente’s Corner: Stephane Matteau Recalls His Memorable Playoff Goal 30 Years Later

The year was 1994 and the New York Rangers were having a magical season. Captained by Mark Messier, the Broadway Blues were a team built to win under coach Mike Keenan. Featuring veterans Adam Graves, Kevin Lowe, Glenn Anderson and Steve Larmer, the Rangers would eventually hoist the Stanley Cup by season’s end after beating the Vancouver Canucks.   

The win ended a 54-year Stanley Cup drought. Thirty years later, Rangers fans still fondly recall that championship run.

Along the way, the team gave fans a series of memorable moments. The biggest is undoubtedly Stephane Matteau’s incredible game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils. Looking back, those seven games were one of the best playoff series ever contested.

Stephane Matteau during his time with the Rangers.

Each time Matteau returns to New York — like he did last month to take part in a panel discussion as part of a series of talks with former players commemorating the ’94 season – he still gets plenty of love from fans old and young.

“I was very uncomfortable the first few years when people would scream my name,” Matteau said when asked about the reception he often gets. “I thought [the fans] were rude…But please don’t stop. It’s just an incredible feeling.”   

Inevitably, that famous goal is synonymous with Matteau’s career. With a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals on the line, the Devils got a goal by Valeri Zelepukin with 7.7 seconds left in the third period to make it 1-1. The Madison Square Garden crowd was left in stunned silence.   

It looked as if the Rangers would be eliminated. New York had been down 3-2 in the series and only after Messier guaranteed they would win Game 6 (he backed it up by scoring a hat trick in a 4-2 victory) in order to force a final game on May 27, 1994.

“I was so nervous playing that game,” Matteau said of Game 6. “We were facing elimination for the first time [that season].”

Stephane Matteau signs an autograph for a young Rangers fan. [Photo by Clemente Lisi]
It was back in Game 3 (where Zelepukin also scored the tying goal) that Eddie Olczyk had kissed Matteau’s stick for good luck in the dressing room. It worked and Matteau won the game with a double-overtime goal. In Game 7, Matteau headed for the ice and again ran into his teammate. Matteau asked for another lucky kiss. Olczyk obliged, then did a little dance with the stick.

“He’s the reason I scored those two overtime goals,” Matteau joked.  

The rest is history. Matteau scored the winning goal in double OT, forever making him the Rangers’ eternal playoff hero. His name — made famous by announcer Howie Rose’s memorable “He scores! Matteau, Matteau, Matteau!” radio call — has a permanent place in the soundtrack of hockey history.

Photo of Stephane Matteau’s famous 1994 Eastern Conference Finals Game 7 goal, autographed by Matteau with the inscription “Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!”

Some could even argue it is one of the biggest goals in Rangers’ history.   

“The biggest goal,” Matteau clarified. “The biggest goal.”

Asked whether he still has that famous stick or the jersey he wore that night, Matteau said, “I don’t have it. I didn’t keep anything [from that game].”

The only thing Matteau saved from Game 7 were his skates, which are now on permanent display at Madison Square Garden for fans to see. 

Stephane Matteau’s skates worn during his famous goal are on display at Madison Square Garden. [Photo by Clemente Lisi]
Matteau, who grew up in northwestern Quebec and was childhood friends with Pierre Turgeon, had a 13-year NHL career. He started his pro career with the Calgary Flames. His rookie card appears in the 1990-91 Pro Set and Score sets. He also has the distinction of having a “Young Guns” card in the 1990-91 Upper Deck set, the very first time those cards ever appeared.

Stephane Matteau’s 1990-91 Upper Deck Young Guns rookie card.

Matteau, who has become a regular at New York-area card shows and autograph signings in recent years, had played for the Chicago Blackhawks before coming to New York. He would go on to play for the St. Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks and Florida Panthers before retiring in 2003.

In New York, Matteau played left wing on the third line with Larmer at center and Alexi Kovalev at right wing. Only 24 years old when the Rangers acquired him and Brian Noonan from the Blackhawks (in return for Tony Almonte) at the March 1994 trade deadline, Matteau came to the Big Apple because of Keenan’s insistence.

For Keenan, it turned out to be a brilliant piece of recruiting. In fact, without Matteau, the Rangers may not have won it all that spring. Matteau picked up four goals and seven points in 12 regular-season games. He added six goals and nine points in the playoffs.  

“I was a young player at the time and [Keenan] pushed me to the limit,” Matteau recalled. “I am very grateful that I had a chance to be pushed.”  

As for the current Rangers team, Matteau said seeing another championship run this spring remains a real possibility.

“They’re doing great,” he said. “We’re so proud of them.”

Clemente Lisi is a lifelong Rangers fan who first started collecting cards in 1986. He collects both vintage and modern with a focus on rookie cards. Follow him on X/Twitter @ClementeLisi.

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Author: Clemente Lisi

Clemente Lisi is a lifelong Rangers fan who first started collecting cards in 1986. He collects both vintage and modern with a focus on rookie cards. Follow him on Twitter @ClementeLisi.

One thought on “Clemente’s Corner: Stephane Matteau Recalls His Memorable Playoff Goal 30 Years Later”

  1. My wife knows nothing of hockey, but she’s heard me re-enact Howie Rose’s call so many times that when she ordered a certain type of French cake a few months ago, she shouted to me: “Gâteau! Gâteau! Gâteau!”

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