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 14-4-2 record into a game against the Nordiques in Quebec City on Nov. 19, 1992. Here is Red Fisher’s story from that game.
For Habs fans looking to relive the Montreal-Quebec rivalry, RDS will televise Game 7 of the 1987 Stanley Cup playoff series between the Canadiens and Nordiques at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Hard work pays off for Nordiques; Win round one of Battle of Quebec without goalie Hextall
QUEBEC – Strange, isn’t it, how on a night when a team doesn’t have it, the words “killer instinct” are used over and over again.
“Where was it?” wondered Kirk Muller, after last night’s 4-3 Canadiens loss to the Quebec Nordiques in what was to have been The Battle of Quebec – but wasn’t. “What happened to our killer instinct?”
“We were up two,” Brian Bellows said, “and didn’t go after three. We played it soft. No killer instinct.”
“We were back on our heels in the last two periods – or at least after our second goal early in the second,” Mathieu Schneider said. “The last two periods, heck, most of them were played in our zone.”
There are a lot of reasons why the Canadiens left this city with only their second loss in their last 16 games, and one of them may have been the missing killer instinct. What’s certain, though, is that the Canadiens owned the first period and a tiny part of the second, as Stephan Lebeau scored the first of his two on the night. After that, most of it belonged to the Nordiques. They worked harder, longer … and won it – the hard way.
The hard way is winning without Ron Hextall, who was a late scratch. It’s coming from behind an 0-2 deficit. It’s Stephane Fiset allowing no more than two goals while his associates were spending time trying to find their way to the high-quality game they’ve been playing thus far this season.
J.J. Daigneault and Lebeau were the Canadiens’ goal-scorers early in each of the first two periods. After that, starting from the moment Martin Rucinsky beat Patrick Roy with a power-play goal, the Nordiques found it – and the Canadiens largely lost it.
For those of you who may have come in late, Canadiens personnel have been getting a message in recent days.
“Hey, chaps, it’s nice we’re winning a lot of games, but we can’t keep playing this dangerous game,” coach Jacques Demers had been saying – and properly so. “We can’t give up leads to the other teams the way we have. Got that?”
Somebody down there, starting with Daigneault and Lebeau, must have been listening. Unhappily, though, it was for only a little more than a period, because Owen Nolan’s goal late in the second period sent the teams into the dressing room locked up, 2-2. Then, Joe Sakic and Scott Young scored quickly with fewer than three minutes gone in the third – and this one was gone even though Lebeau lifted the Canadiens to within one midway through the third.
For a while last night, while the Canadiens went about the business of doing what their kindly ol’ coach asked them to, it seemed to be a matter of the Canadiens being that good and the Nordiques substantially less than what they were reading about themselves in the papers. Or it could have been Hextall’s absence. The goaltender wasn’t dressed because he hadn’t slept well the last couple of days out of concern for a sister, who’s ill.
All that’s certain, though, is that the team which fell behind 1-0 a hair beyond two minutes into the game, didn’t live up to its notices. The Nordiques didn’t get their first shot until nearly eight minutes into the game. By that time, the Canadiens had their goal from Daigneault on the second of six shots.
It’s true that Roy was tested fairly severely on the first two Quebec shots – the first a giveaway by a Canadiens defender. On the other hand, he was exceptional in spots during the second period. He was soft on the Young goal in the third period, but in truth, Roy wasn’t getting much help from his friends.
Strange game, in a way.
Long before this first regular-season meeting at the summit, the Canadiens seemed more than ready for this one. For example, when the team bus left for the Colisee, only one-half of the players were on it. Others had left earlier. Anxious to get at it, it seems.
They played that way, as well, with Daigneault getting the goal only two minutes into the game. They played that way right up to the Lebeau goal 1:44 into the second period and then … The Case of the Dreaded Missing Instinct!
“They’ve got some terrific players, and they showed up when we went ahead 2-0,” Muller said, “But maybe we made them look that way. We let ‘em come to us, and you can’t do that with any team.”