As we wait and hope for an end to the NHL lockout, Canadiens fans can relive the 1992-93 season – the last year the Habs won the Stanley Cup – at HIO as we post game stories from that season.
The Habs took a 5-3-2 record into a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Oct. 28, 1992 at the Forum. Here is Red Fisher’s story from that game:
(Photo by John Mahoney/The Gazette)
Habs’ big line gets untracked; Bellows strikes twice against plucky Lightning
The word, Kirk Muller was saying in paragraphs, is tempo. Turn it up.
“We’ve got to go at a high tempo,” Muller said in the moments after this throat-grabbing, 4-3 victory over the plucky Tampa Bay Lightning. “We – the line has to play that way, or we’re not doing the job.”
The line Muller was talking about is the Million Dollar gang, which also includes Brian Bellows, who scored his seventh and eighth goals, and Vincent Damphousse, who assisted on both.
“We’ve been talking about it the last few days,” said Muller. “We couldn’t understand why we weren’t working together as a line. The talent is there, but the results weren’t. We’d be getting points, but not as a line, and that didn’t make sense.”
What Muller really was saying about The Line was that nobody noticed it as a line. Its members have been a step behind. There was very little eye-catching about it – until last night.
They dominated during the first two periods, which produced goals from Patrice Brisebois and Eric Desjardins and the pair from Bellows. Brian Bradley had scored a first-period goal for Tampa, and just when it appeared that the Canadiens would run away and hide, the Lightning struck for goals from Rob Ramage and Chris Kontos in the final period.
In other words, a scary ending, particularly when it’s considered the Canadiens were outshot 10-3 in the final period after outshooting Tampa 24-12 in the first two periods.
The Canadiens, no doubt, will be looking hard at films today to determine what it was that let the air out of the balloon in the final period. For one thing, they were outworked, but they can gain some solace from the fact that last night, at least, the big line came out to play.
“In other games, we weren’t moving the puck,” said Muller. “We were hanging on to it. Damphousse and I are shooters, but looking back, we could see that instead of shooting, we were passing it off. We were always looking for the other guys. Tonight’s the first time we’ve connected as a line.”
Good thing, too, because the Canadiens, as a team, had their hands full, although they should have suspected the night wouldn’t be an easy one. Earlier, for example, Lightning coach Terry Crisp had provided a quick mini-assessment of his bunch: “They listen,” he said. “They can’t sit back and tell me how good they are. They do what they’re told.”
In other words: they work. Also, they don’t quit, and to understand it, all that’s necessary is to chart the team’s conduct in the final period, when they got those Ramage and Kontos goals.
Going into the period, they trailed, 4-1. The best they could do was a goal from Bradley in the first period and a meagre total of 12 shots at Patrick Roy. In other words, the third period was a time when everything pointed to the Lightning capitulating without a whimper.
Work, you should know, also is something the Canadiens have been bringing to the arena.
Such as: Denis Savard delivers his umpteenth excellent individual effort of the season, Gilbert Dionne has one taken away from him, but he’s sufficiently alert to catch Desjardins with a short pass. Desjardins, in one of his rare dashes deep into the opposition’s zone this season, beats Jablonski.
Then, there’s Bellows snapping a shot at Lightning goaltender Jablonski, who was a hair slow closing off the corner. Jablonski got only a piece of the puck – and that was enough for coach Crisp to toss a rope around his goaltender – for a little while, at least. He was yanked in the eighth minute of the second period, but was back for the start of the third, a formula coach Crisp often used behind the Calgary bench.
Jablonski was out after 16 shots and three goals, Wendell Young was in – and there’s Bellows getting his second of the night from during a power play.
“We weren’t on the same wavelength for a long time,” said Muller. “Now we are. Now, we’ve got something to build on.”