Maple Leafs 6, Canadiens 4
Saturday, February 8, 1992
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario
In a way, the manner in which the winning goal was scored made perfect sense.
After all, if the Toronto Maple Leafs, until six weeks ago one of the worst outfits in the NHL, can suddenly win seven of eight games, why can’t Ric Nattress score the 21st goal of his 10-year career from centre ice on one of the finest goaltenders in hockey?
Suddenly, however, all the “never happens” are turning to “why nots?” as the surging Maple Leafs seem capable of almost anything.
Even – gasp! – making the playoffs.
Last night, the Leafs registered their second impressive conquest in two nights over one of the league’s top clubs with a 6-4 triumph over the Montréal Canadiens at Maple Leaf Gardens. It was the third win in four nights for the Leafs, who had stung the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 in Motown just 24 hours earlier and are now just seven points behind Minnnesota for the fourth and final Norris Division playoff spot.
In fact, the Leafs now trail third-place St. Louis by just 12 points, but let’s not get too carried away.
The six goals the Leafs put past Montréal netminder Patrick Roy came off the sticks of five players who had combined for 15 goals in 166 previous NHL games this season. The most amazing (shocking?) of the six came from Nattress with eight minutes to play that broke open a 4-4 tie.
The big blueliner lumbered across the red line and drifted a long slap shot that Roy simply flubbed with his oversized catching mitt.
“Hey, I’m always surprised when shots of mine go in,” chuckled Nattress.
That Nattress would score the winner was apropos considering the night was dominated by Leaf lesser lights. The team’s third line of centre Claude Loiselle between rookie left winger Guy Larose and right winger Daniel Marois was dominant, combining for three of Toronto’s four third-period goals.
Larose, whose father Claude skated the right side for Les Habitants for nearly a decade, potted the first two goals of his NHL career, markers that have been a long time coming considering he’s 24 years old.
“I’ve been waiting so long for someone to give me a chance,” said Larose, who arrived in the Leaf organization by way of a minor- league deal December 26 swung by Leaf assistant general manager Bill Watters with the New York Rangers.
“I wasn’t sure I’d ever get the chance to play up here, but when I was traded to Toronto, I knew this was my big chance and it was time to work even harder.”
The gritty Larose, who had played only 10 NHL games before being summoned from the Leafs’ top minor- league affiliate in St. John’s 20 days ago, scored twice on rebounds – once after his left glove had been ripped out of his hand.
“I’m really happy for him because he’d been working so hard with no reward,” said a visibly pleased Leaf general manager Cliff Fletcher. “Now, he should start playing even better.”
Marois had the Leafs’ sixth goal, while Loiselle had three assists.
“We’ve needed some scoring from the third line, even though we’re primarily a defensive line,” said Loiselle. “It finally came tonight.”
Mike Krushelnyski and Bob Halkidis had the other Leaf goals.
Denis Savard, with two, Kirk Muller and Stéphan Lebeau scored for Montréal.
The Habs, overall NHL leaders for much of the season, have suddenly lost five of their last six.
“We’re in deep (trouble),” said Montréal head coach Pat Burns, using more colourful language to express his concern.
Defenceman Dave Ellett said the fact Montréal was the opponent helped the Leafs shrug off the tiring effects of five games in eight nights.
The Leafs blew 1-0, 3-2 and 4-3 leads but refused to wilt, and finally pulled ahead for good on Nattress’ goal.
“When we play Montréal, there’s so much emotion and so much adrenaline that you don’t feel tired or sluggish out there,” said Ellett.
Story originally published in The Toronto Star, February 9, 1992
TOR GOAL – 07:00 – Halkidis (DeBlois, Zezel)
MTL PEN – 19:15 – Muller, interference
TOR PEN – 07:51 – team, too many men on the ice
MTL PP GOAL – 09:09 – Savard (Desjardins, Muller)
MTL GOAL – 11:21 – Lebeau (Svoboda, Savard)
TOR GOAL – 16:39 – Krushelnyski (Anderson, Gilmour)
TOR GOAL – 02:18 – Larose (Loiselle, Nattress)
MTL PEN – 02:31 – Ewen, roughing
TOR PEN – 02:31 – Marois, cross checking
MTL PEN – 02:31 – Svoboda, roughing
MTL GOAL – 05:12 – Savard (Desjardins, Brisebois)
TOR GOAL – 05:42 – Larose (Johnston, Macoun)
TOR PEN – 06:02 – Anderson, tripping
MTL GOAL – 09:25 – Muller (Savard, Corson)
TOR GOAL – 12:00 – Nattress (Macoun, Loiselle)
TOR GOAL – 14:38 – Marois (Loiselle)
TOR – Fuhr (W, 27-31)
MTL – Roy (L, 29-35)
SHOTS ON GOAL
TOR – 9+8+18 = 35
MTL – 11+11+9 = 31
TOR – Goaltenders: Grant Fuhr. Defence: Dave Ellett, Todd Gill (A), Bob Halkidis, Jamie Macoun, Ric Nattress, Bob Rouse (A). Forwards: Glenn Anderson, Brian Bradley, Mike Bullard, Wendel Clark (C), Lucien DeBlois, Doug Gilmour, Greg Johnston, Mike Krushelnyski, Guy Larose, Claude Loiselle, Daniel Marois, Peter Zezel.
MTL – Goaltenders: Patrick Roy. Defence: Patrice Brisebois, J.J. Daigneault, Éric Desjardins, Lyle Odelein, Mathieu Schneider, Petr Svoboda. Forwards: Guy Carbonneau (C), Shayne Corson, Gilbert Dionne, Paul DiPietro, Todd Ewen, Brent Gilchrist, Stéphan Lebeau, John LeClair, Mike McPhee (A), Kirk Muller, Denis Savard, Sylvain Turgeon.
TOR – 19-31-5 (.391)
MTL – 32-21-4 (.596)
⭐ Guy Larose (TOR)
⭐⭐ Denis Savard (MTL)
⭐⭐⭐ Doug Gilmour (TOR)