Habs 1992-93 season flashback: Big road win over Sharks

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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 23-14-4  record into a game against the San Jose Sharks on Jan. 4, 1993 in Sacramento, Calif. Below is Red Fisher’s story from that game:

Habs regain lead in Adams

CANADIENS 4
SHARKS 1

RED FISHER
THE GAZETTE

SACRAMENTO – Canadiens general manager Serge Savard is thankful for little mercies – but he’s got a long memory.

“It’s not so bad,” said Savard after last night’s paper-thin 4-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks. “We’ve got five points out of a possible 10 on this trip, and we could end up with seven out of 12. We’re back on top in the Adams.

“What still bothers me, though, is losing the last two games at home. You don’t lose games at home to Hartford and the New York Islanders. You don’t play at home the way we played against those two teams,” he said.

Last night’s game was the first time Savard has watched his gang that can’t shoot straight since the team left on its six-game road trip, which winds up tonight against the Sharks in San Francisco. His best moment, no doubt, came in the eighth minute of the final period when Mathieu Schneider lifted the Canadiens into the lead for the first time with a wraparound goal. Until then, though, it was tight-collar time, which loosened late in the period on goals by Stephan Lebeau and Kirk Muller.

Savard insists he wasn’t bothered by what he saw only hours after arriving in Sacramento, which may be true. On the other hand, whatever it was he was watching wasn’t a cause for celebration from time to time – particularly when it’s noted that the teams went into the third period locked up 1-1.

The Sharks had opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal from Neil Wilkinson late in the first period. On the other hand, only 3:01 remained in the second when the Canadiens finally got their goal from Vincent Damphousse.

Before and between goals, it’s imagined Savard was left dismayed now and then – largely because of scoring chances gone thataway.

What, for example, was he thinking when Kirk Muller missed an open side of the net with a backhander during a power play early in the first?

What went through his mind when Schneider rang one off the post in the 16th minute and again a little more than a minute later while the Canadiens were in the process of outshooting the Sharks 13-3?

At least half of the Canadiens’ first-period shots came during the first two of three Sharks’ penalties – the only minors assessed by referee Denis Morel in the period. So what was Savard’s reaction when the period’s only goal, Wilkinson’s first of the season, came while the Sharks were killing off their third penalty?

Pat Falloon and Wilkinson, who hadn’t scored since the final game of last season, made it look easy. It ended with Cement Hands Wilkinson racing in alone on Andre Racicot and flipping the puck beyond him.

It was San Jose’s fourth – and last shot – of the period.

“Their goaltender played well,” said Savard. “I know we missed a few, but he took away at least a couple.”

Savard has that right. Jeff Hackett, who was a major-league problem for the Canadiens in two of the three games involving the teams last season, was splendid during the first two periods. His work was rooted in excellence while his colleagues were being out- gunned 24-12, but some of the Canadiens’ problems were self- inflicted.

Good shooters don’t miss empty nets. Teams with a scoring touch don’t miss as many opportunities as the Canadiens did among the 36 shots they delivered.

Why can’t they shoot straight, Savard must have wondered. As straight, for example, as Todd Ewen, whose shot struck Hackett on the mask and bent its iron bars, opening a two-stitch cut on the San Jose goaltender’s forehead.

Trouble is, Ewen’s shot was delivered several seconds after time had expired in the second period.

(Photo by Marcos Townsend/The Gazette)

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