With no end to the NHL lockout in sight, we’ll let Canadiens fans relive the 1992-93 season when the Habs won the last of their 24 Stanley Cups by posting game stories from that season.
The Habs took a 1-1 record into their home opener on Oct. 10, 1992 against Mario Lemieux and the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Forum.
Here is Red Fisher’s story from that game
Habs fight back to tie Pens; Brunet scores two as Canadiens get act together
The way Patrick Roy was telling it, there he was sitting by himself between the second and third periods – and asking himself questions.
Such as: what can I do to play a little better?
The reason hockey’s best goaltender was talking to himself is that at the time, the Canadiens were trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins, 3- 1, which is not a very good thing to do.
“My role,” Roy was saying after the Canadiens had rallied for goals from Brian Bellows and Benoit Brunet in the third for a 3-3 tie the hard way, “is to make the key saves. I thought we should have come out of the second period with something better, but (Tom) Barrasso had made a lot of big stops.
“It was important for us to come back,” said Roy. “I felt I had to do my part.”
“What it comes down to,” added Kirk Muller, who delivered 100 cents on the dollar looking after Mario Lemieux, “is that we’re happy with the point. They got three power-play goals, we got a big one (from Bellows) to put us back in the game.”
It was a big one, all right, considering it was the Canadiens’ first of the season – on their 21st crack at it. So, too, was Brunet’s goal with fewer than six minutes remaining. He also scored the Canadiens’ first goal after Kevin Stevens and Larry Murphy had provided the Penguins with a 2-0 lead in the second period. Lemieux re-established the two-goal margin seconds after the Brunet goal.
The Canadiens team which burst out of the starting gate and rallied last night in no way resembled the shabby gang which fell to the Ottawa Senators 5-3 on Thursday.
Forget, for a moment, that neither team was able to put anything on the board in the first period. The reality is that the Canadiens had come to play on this night, outshooting the Stanley Cup champions 10-4 in the first period, and 37-31 on the game.
They also killed off a four-minute penalty to Denis Savard in the last two minutes of regulation and the first two of the overtime.
The rap against him was an attempted spear on Ulf Samuelsson, which obviously didn’t land, since referee Kerry Fraser ruled it nothing more than an “attempt.” So why did a double-parlez-vous swoon by Samuelsson go unpunished, since there’s now a minor penalty in the books for diving?
Canadiens general manager Serge Savard, a polite soul, put it this way:
“I didn’t think it was a good call.”
Nice call, Serge.
Pittsburgh goaltender Barrasso was, as Roy noted, the difference in this game. He was exceptional at times, but so were several Canadiens in their valiant attempts to beat him. Muller was a bulldog in his pursuit of Lemieux.
“All I can say,” sighed Muller, “is that I wouldn’t like to play back-to-back games against him.”
Another plus for the Penguins, along with Barrasso, was their power play. Put it this way: the Penguins may not have the best power play in the National Hockey League (Buffalo was No. 1 last season), but they’re surely the scariest.
Roll these names on your tongue: Lemieux, Stevens, Rick Tocchet, Murphy and Ron Francis … and Jaromir Jagr hasn’t even been mentioned yet. Anyway, it was Stevens who lashed a shot beyond Roy early in the second period for the game’s first goal. And while Stevens was putting one on the board, wasn’t that Barrasso taking one away from Stephan Lebeau only a moment later – after saving brilliantly on Brunet directly off the faceoff?
The Penguins have reached that point in their development toward mini-dynasty status where they’re supremely confident, patient – and deadly on offence. They don’t hurry with their scoring opportunities and surely don’t panic whenever the opposition is in control.
So there’s Murphy beating Roy with yet another power-play goal late in the second. And while Brunet got that one back seconds later banking a short shot off Barrasso’s skate, Lemieux re- established Pittsburgh’s two-goal margin with (sigh) a Lemieux-type goal.
Should anybody be surprised by any of this? Of course not, when it’s considered that the Penguins haven’t lost a step or anybody of note since locking up their second consecutive Stanley Cup. If anything, they’ve improved.
The Penguins are big, strong and indifferent to the game’s highs and lows. They control the flow. In other words, they have the talent to turn up the volume.
NOTES – Canadiens fans have class: they gave Lemieux a standing ovation when he was introduced in the pre-game ceremony… . Henri Richard, who was on a record 11 Stanley Cup teams, was part of the official face-off party. Richard will be introduced as honorary captain of the Wales Conference all-star team at a Tuesday press conference. He’ll be joined there by Frank Mahovlich, who’s honorary captain of the Campbell team for the All-Star Game, which is being held in Montreal this year.
(Photo by Dave Sidaway/The Gazette)