It has been 25 years since the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup. Leading up to the anniversary on June 9, we’ll be tracking the Habs’ route to victory with articles from the Montreal Gazette archives.
June 4, 1993
Original headline: Cup now a best-of-five series; Desjardins a 3-goal hero as Habs beat Kings in OT
KINGS 2 (OT)
Eric Desjardins had that feeling, he was saying. Feeling good about everything, that is.
“You feel good because you know you’re in the game,” he said in the moments after his tying goal with 1:13 left in regulation — and the winner 51 seconds into the overtime — provided the Canadiens with a must-win, 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.
Desjardins was feeling good but the Canadiens, as a team, were feeling great because what this eighth victory in nine overtime games does is lock up the Stanley Cup final with the Kings, 1-1. Games 3 and 4 are in Los Angeles tomorrow and Monday.
A lot of games have been played in these playoffs, with at least three more remaining, but none has or is likely to have as bizarre a finish as this one.
There were the Canadiens, trailing 2-1 on a night when they surely came to play. Desjardins had scored the only goal of the first period, Dave Taylor the only one in the second — shorthanded. Pat Conacher’s goal midway through the third had lifted the Kings into the lead, at which point there was ample reason to believe they would leave the city with a 2-0 lead in the series.
Fewer than two minutes remained when coach Jacques Demers pulled a rabbit out of his Canadiens cap.
What the kindly ol’ coach did was call for a measurement of Marty McSorley’s stick — a gamble at best. If you’re right, McSorley is out. Wrong — and a Canadiens player is dispatched to the penalty box.
Demers was right, and with Patrick Roy yanked for an extra attacker, Desjardins scored his second goal of the game with a rising shot from the blue line.
He made it three with his overtime winner — and ain’t life grand?
“I tried too hard on my first shot,” he said of his winner. “I had all my weight on it. I got it back … ”
He got it from Benoit Brunet, and there was no mistake on his second shot. The Canadiens’ 41st shot (the Kings had 24) beat Kelly Hrudey cleanly.
“Like I was saying,” said Desjardins, “you feel good, but you don’t know you’re going to score.
Carbo’s best game of year
“Desjardins,” said a smiling Serge Savard, “had one of those dream nights, but he’s been playing very well since the start of the playoffs — especially against Quebec. Tonight, well, what can you say about a guy who scores all the goals in a 3-2 win? What I can say is that Guy Carbonneau probably played his best game of the season.”
What Savard could have added was that his Canadiens, an embarrassment in Game 1, lifted their game several levels on this night. Not completely, when it’s considered that coach Demers was so unhappy with Brian Bellows that he benched him for the entire second period. More than enough of them came to play, however.
Forty-eight hours earlier, this Canadiens gang which couldn’t shoot straight looked like a team which needed a jump-start in a hurry. There was nobody around to get the job done. Not a volunteer in sight.
They stuttered and struggled their way through three periods — except for perhaps eight or nine minutes at the start of the second period. They were uninterested. Hardly anyone among them, aside from Patrick Roy, could look into the mirror and deliver a thumbs up.
Now, here it is two nights later, and the jumping started at the start. They needed a 16th shot in the first period before Desjardins’s shot from the blue line hissed between Hrudey’s legs. The names and bodies were the same, but the intensity and work ethic were sky-high.
The first period was one in which the Canadiens outshot the Kings 16-5, and while many of their first 15 didn’t test Hrudey too severely, what mattered is that on this night, the Canadiens had arrived at the arena clutching their lunch pails.
They came in waves. They hit. Early in the period, in a 51-second span, Kirk Muller, Mathieu Schneider and Desjardins thundered into Wayne Gretzky.
It wasn’t a matter of “getting” the Great One. Mostly, it was a case of letting the Kings know that hey, we messed up in Game 1, but this is another night so let’s get it on.
There was nothing soft about their game. Vincent Damphousse brought everything he had to the arena. So did Muller and Keane. Bellows?
“I didn’t think Brian Bellows was giving me Brian Bellows hockey,” said Demers with a grunt.
“I took the criticism constructively,” replied Bellows. “I worked out on the bike between the second and third period. I played in the third.”
The 28-14 margin in shots the Canadiens enjoyed going into the third period would seem to indicate that Hrudey had to be on top of his game to keep his colleagues alive. He had his moments, but the reality is that he wasn’t tested as severely as the numbers showed. Not nearly enough — except by Desjardins, who had both of the overtime shots.
There was also Carbonneau who, as Savard said, played his best game. He did a man-sized job defensively. When the Canadiens were left short for 61 seconds early in the third, Carbonneau helped hold off the explosive Kings — and almost scored on a partial breakaway.
“I was being hooked going in,” said Carbonneau. “I couldn’t get as much on the shot as I would have liked.
“Know something?” Carbonneau asked. “I’m glad Desjardins did.”