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 16-6-3 record into a game against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 30, 1992 at the Forum. Below is Red Fisher’s story from that game:
Canadiens blend defence with offence
Was it as long ago as four games into the season that the Canadiens went into Buffalo on a high and came out of the city as low as any bunch can get?
The Embarrassment was an outgrowth of the Canadiens being outshot, 50-26, crashing 8-2 and coming home to a 6 a.m. team meeting and a 7 a.m. practice called by their kindly ol’ coach, Jacques Demers.
“If we learned anything in that game,” Kirk Muller was saying after last night’s 3-0 win over the Sabres, “it was that we didn’t want to get into a shootout with them. We haven’t seen them for a while, so we didn’t really know what to expect, but shootout was out.”
Strong, controlled, heady play was in – and was there a better example of it than the Stephan Lebeau goal midway through the second period after Vincent Damphousse and Denis Savard had scored goals in the first?
It started with the Sabres clearing the puck to Patrick Roy, who was to post his first shutout in 35 games, and then heading en masse for their bench. Line and defence changes, you know.
That, of course, left a chasm all the way down the ice to goaltender Roy’s right, so it’s Roy to Mike Keane on this side of the centre ice line, Keane to Damphousse, over to Lebeau – and it’s No. 13 from close in for Bobo.
At the other end, goaltender Roy pounded his gloved fist into the air several times, skated in several small circles, raised his arm again – looking all the while like someone who was tremendously pleased with his contribution to a goal which effectively left the Sabres dead in he water.
“You don’t get chances like that too often,” Roy was to mention much later. “There was only one thing to do … one way to go. It was a big goal, too. I tried it against the Bruins with Damphousse, but (Andy) Moog made a big stop.”
“Patrick read it well,” said Damphousse.
“We’ve tried it before,” said Muller, “but it didn’t work because we were a little slow on the passes. Patrick said we should try it again, though.”
“It was a dumb play on our part,” said Buffalo coach John Muckler.
There’s something to be said for all of the above, but what’s certain was that there wasn’t much left in the Sabres after the goal – presuming they had something going for them earlier.
The fact is, the Canadiens were better than their three-goal margin. In other words, the hot-and-cold Daren Puppa had to be on top of his game to contain the Canadiens.
The Canadiens honor roll was a long one on this night.
Damphousse, who was playing in his 500th NHL game, was on fire in a first period which produced little offence until he beat Puppa with a power-play goal with fewer than four minutes remaining and Savard added another 62 seconds later. The goal came on the Canadiens’ 12th shot of the period – the Sabres had been held to five – and Savard got his eighth of the season after some unflinching work in concert with Lebeau and Eric Desjardins.
The Canadiens defence was splendid, as a group, led by Desjardins and Mathieu Schneider. Roy was, well, Roy. All in all, this bunch excelled as a team, not the least among them being the line of Guy Carboneau, Patrik Carnback and Todd Ewen – which did a man-sized job of taking away all of what Pat LaFontaine normally brings to an arena.
The Canadiens, you should know, are having fun.
Equally important is that they’re making it fun for the people who have been without it for too long a time.
`Fun’ is three Canadiens sweeping in on one Buffalo defender during a short-handed situation and Kevin Haller forcing Puppa into a giant stop.
It’s the Sabres promptly turning it around with a three-on-one of their own – only to have Desjardins spoiling the party with a formidable, second-effort defensive play.
Then, seconds later, it’s Roy producing the period’s, if not the game’s, best save, followed not much later with his exemplary reading of the Sabres which had him punching the air with glee after the firm of Keane, Damphousse and Lebeau made it work.
Now, the Canadiens find out if they can make it work on the road, as well, with games in Boston, Winnipeg, Chicago and against the Kings in Phoenix.
Sounds like fun.
(Photo by John Mahoney/The Gazette)