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 4-3-1 record into a game against the Rangers in New York on Oct. 23, 1992. Here is Red Fisher’s story from that game:
Canadiens rally to tie Rangers; Sensational Savard, Roy spur Habs comeback
NEW YORK – Denis Savard sits there and talks about how nice it is to leap out of the starting blocks with 17 points in his first nine games and yeah, how if a guy plays well in his own end, the offensive chances will come.
“It’s got nothing to do with the reins coming off,” he insisted in the moments after he and his associates came out of a completely entertaining struggle locked up 3-3.
Savard, you should know, can be a great kidder.
From the start of the season, he has been spending more time in the opposition’s zone than he normally spent in a week of games the last two seasons. He’s challenged people one on one and, obviously, has been winning most of the skirmishes – which is why he now leads the Canadiens with four goals and 13 assists … and counting.
“I really don’t think we’ve lost anything on defence,” said Savard, whose goal late in the second period brought the Canadiens all the way back in a game they trailed 2-0 after the first period and 3-1 midway through the second.
Maybe not, but what game was he watching last night? For example, has he checked with New York Rangers super-sniper Mike Gartner lately?
Gartner, who scored the only Rangers goal in the second period, after Mark Messier and Jan Erixon had beaten Patrick Roy in the first, had Roy on his mind even before the start of this game.
“He has no glaring weaknesses,” Gartner said of Roy. “He’s just very consistent night after night. He doesn’t have too many bad games. You have to score on him. He’s not going to beat himself.”
Roy, obviously, didn’t stop everything last night – but he came close. He made 14 saves, including several exceptional ones, in the first period when the Rangers appeared to leave the Canadiens dead in the water.
He was even better in the final seconds of regulation time, when he stopped the Rangers’ heavy artillery – and superb in the overtime when he stopped five among the game-total 40.
“Roy did it all for us,” agreed Savard. “He kept us alive.”
What Savard meant was that Roy breathed enough life into the Canadiens for what surely was a high-character comeback with second-period goals from Gilbert Dionne, Todd Ewen and Savard.
What he also meant was that yes, indeed, the Canadiens were delighted to leave Broadway with a point.
Roy’s work wasn’t the only reason the Canadiens were still alive and well at game’s end, but he surely was the biggest.
As Gartner says, he didn’t beat himself – except, perhaps, on Gartner’s goal midway through the second period – but only after Jean-Jacques Daigneault’s clearing pass had been intercepted by Gartner. Roy was on his game in every way, as he has been in his three preceding games during which the Canadiens had outscored the opposition 22-7.
Mark this down: goaltenders don’t play much better than Roy did in last night’s first period, which belonged to the Rangers. They surely don’t play better than when he made stops on Tony Amonte and Messier late in regulation time and in overtime.
How one-sided was last night’s first period?
Scotty Bowman, whose Pittsburgh Penguins appear poised to make a laugher out of the race this season, didn’t make it to Madison Square Garden on a scouting mission until the end of the first period. Maybe Bowman doesn’t feel he has to scout more than two periods of any game, but the reality is that he didn’t miss anything. At least, not if he had any interest whatever in what the Canadiens were doing against the Rangers.
The Canadiens weren’t credited with their second shot of the period until there were fewer than five minutes remaining in it. In other words, take away Roy’s brilliance, or even diminish it slightly, and the Rangers were in a postion to put away this game early.
Soviet import Alexei Kovalev, for example, had a couple taken away by Roy. Gartner had his pocket picked while the Canadiens went about the business of tossing away the puck in their own end.
So what was it that happened in the final two periods – or the greatest part of them?
“We were overconfident after the first period,” said Rangers coach Roger Neilson. “We certainly fell asleep during the second period. I think you can say it was our worst period of the year.”
Perhaps, but it also may have been the Canadiens’ best – and they made the Rangers like it.
The Dionne goal, for example, was an outgrowth of the sophomore coming out from behind John Vanbiesbrouck’s net without a Ranger laying a hand on him. So was the Savard power-play goal, after Ewen had caught an open side of the net.
(Photo by John Mahoney/The Gazette)