The Habs took an 11-3-2 record into a game against the Devils in New Jersey on Nov. 11, 1992. Here is Red Fisher’s story from that game
Habs laughing right to top; Swamp Devils to take over No. 1 spot over-all
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – What was it Stephan Lebeau was saying onlya few nights ago about how nice it was to be part of this new- fangled game the Canadiens are playing this season?
Stuff such as: “Everybody feels good about playing this season. Everything is so much better about being part of this team.”
Well, things are getting better and better for the Canadiens in general and Lebeau in particular. Example: how much better can it get than last night’s stunning 8-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils, which included a five-goal outburst in the final period?
How much better does it get than when your line delivers four goals and six assists, which is what was delivered by the firm of Lebeau, Mike Keane and Benoit Brunet?
If Lebeau’s two-goal, two-assist night isn’t uplifting, what is?
“Like I’ve been saying,” said Lebeau last night, “we’re having fun. We’re having fun as a team. We’re playing with team confidence. And sure, we’re playing with line confidence.”
Hmph. It could be that M. Lebeau rapidly is developing into a master of understatement, in any language..
It’s true that confidence was part of what his line was all about while the Canadiens were in the process of getting goals from Kirk Muller, Brunet and Kevin Haller in the first period. However, nothing less than dazzling is what the line surely was in the third, while Lebeau was getting two goals, Muller and Brunet were each getting their second of the game, and Denis Savard was scoring his seventh of the season. Brunet had an assist to go along with his sixth and seventh goals, while Keane punched in three assists.
Claude Lemieux, Peter Stastny and Scott Stevens were the New Jersey goal-scorers.
This night’s work was, in every way, domination of the highest order, although the Canadiens didn’t put it away until Lebeau & Pals went to work in the final period.
“Nobody wants this to stop,” said a grinning Lebeau. “Things are going too good for any part of this to stop. The point is, we weren’t happy with our last game … against Calgary. We know we have to work hard and play well defensively first, then play together and try to outnumber the other team. Trying to beat somebody one-on-one in this league is too tough.”
Very little about any part of last night’s game – with the exception of killing penalties – was too tough for the Canadiens. All of the Devils goals came on the power play, for one reason or another. Quickly, too.
On the other hand, at no point were the Devils too close for comfort. When they did make tiny noises about getting back into the game, Lebeau’s gang simply turned up the juice a little.
In other words, what the Canadiens did last night was beat up on the Devils en route to moving into a tie with Pittsburgh for No. 1 spot over-all in the standings. The victory also extended the team’s current streak to an eye-blinking 11-0-1. That’s a long way from the team-record 28 games in 1977-78, but still impressive.
Mathieu Schneider, who has been attracting a ripple of attention here and there, was another major player last night. He reported bright and early for this one. It was Schneider’s long shot in the early seconds which left a rebound for Muller. The goal, only 23seconds into the game, had the Canadiens off and running hard – despite a scoreless second period which lagged, to give it its most charitable description.
“We came out hard,” Schneider was to mention. “We came out skating,” and isn’t that what it’s all about with this bunch thus far this season?
What they’re also doing is making it look easy, at times, even though, as Lebeau says, nothing comes easy.
There was the matter, for example, of the Brunet goal a little more than six minutes after Muller opened the scoring.
There’s Lebeau starting it all with a rink-wide pass to Keane, who lashes a shot at a shaky Chris Terreri. Another rebound – and Brunet scores.
What the Canadiens are doing, in addition to driving for the net, is chasing the puck wherever it happens to be. It was Lebeau’s determination which got the puck to Haller for the power-play goal which re-established the Canadiens’ two-goal lead after Lemieux had deflected a Bruce Driver shot during a New Jersey power play.
In a few words, no contest.
(Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)