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 22-12-3 record into a game against the Canucks on Dec. 27 1992 in Vancouver. Below is Red Fisher’s story from that game:
Canadiens come up short in Vancouver
VANCOUVER – It’s easy, Kirk Muller was saying, if you know how.
All it takes to get out of this thing, which now has stretched to three consecutive losses, is to get the job done in your own end. After that, it’s all downhill. Piece of cake.
“I think we should be going back a little more to the way we played last year,” said Muller after last night’s 5-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, which wasn’t a sure thing until Pavel Bure got the second of his two third-period goals into an empty net with a little more than a minute remaining. Then, Jiri Slegr added another empty-netter with 35 seconds remaining.
“I don’t think we have to go back all the way to what 600we used to do,” said Muller.
“What we’ve got to do, though, is play a lot better in our end.
“When we get the puck our of our end, that’s the time to go. We were doing a lot better in the third period than we were in the first half, even though they got those two empty-net goals, but we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re not doing as well as we did last year, not nearly as well.”
It’s difficult to say whether or not the Canadiens, as a team, got the job done in their own end last night. What’s certain is that they had more than ample opportunity to lift that part of their game to another level against a Canucks team which established squatters’ rights in the Canadiens zone from the moment Trevor Linden scored on Vancouver’s first shot and came within a hair of another on his second shot.
What’s also certain is that Patrick Roy got the job done in his end. Big time, even though he relinquished goals to Linden, Greg Adams and Bure before being yanked in favor of an extra attacker.
The Canadiens goal-scorers were Stephan Lebeau and Kevin Haller.
Roy made it back all the way last night, keeping his associates alive from start to finish, even though the Canadiens trailed by two goals twice, while the net was occupied.
Trouble is, he didn’t get too much help from his friends at any time, and none on the goals.
Linden, for example, had some company alongside him, but still managed to get away a shot which beat Roy only 35 seconds into the game.
Then, on the Adams goal, Roy made the first stop on Bure, but Patrice Brisebois was barely getting back into the picture when Adams was tapping the puck beyond a fallen Roy.
There were, however, a lot of good things happening on this night, mostly by the goaltenders. In every way, this one belonged to them.
Kirk McLean didn’t have the volume of work Roy had to handle, particularly in the first two periods when the Canucks outshot the Canadiens 27-19. On the other hand, the Canadiens probably had as many quality chances – which is all that matters.
In the first period, for example, he stopped Brian Bellows from point-blank range, which is never easy, and Todd Ewen from close in, which McLean made look easy. A three-stop flurry in the final seconds of that period was goaltending at its best – which both goaltenders happened to be last night.
“There’s really not a whole lot you can do when a goalie is playing that way,” said Muller. “I mean, on another night, who knows what happens. In this game, well, we know how good he is.”
The Canadiens also learned how good Bure happens to be – particularly on his third-period, power-play goal which re- established Vancouver’s two-goal margin. Mike Keane had him against the boards, then let him get away. He beat Roy with an angled shot after jumping on a rink-wide pass from a good-looking offensive defenceman named Jiri Slegr, who’s in the lineup only because Doug Lidster is hurt.
The Canucks, on their part, learned again how good Roy can be. He stopped them short and long. He was on top of loose pucks. He’s back.
The problem with Muller and Friends, in addition to McLean’s excellence, was that their principal snipers weren’t burying their chances as they did earlier in the season. Lebeau made the most of his for the goal which lifted the Canadiens to within a goal of the Canucks, but too many of the Canadiens came to the arena with empty pockets.
The Canadiens are in Edmonton tomorrow night before heading to Calgary for a New Year’s Eve party with the Flames.
(Photo by Peter Battistoni/Vancouver Sun)