Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 4
Saturday, January 9, 1993
Forum de Montréal, Montréal, Québec
It was a slow, dignified, dramatic walk across the Forum ice surface.
It was as though Pat Burns was demonstrating that you can coach and then quit the Montréal Canadiens and survive.
Last night, Burns returned to his old stomping grounds where he had first cut his teeth as an NHL coach, this time as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The fact the Leafs came through for Burns with a heart-stopping 5-4 victory over the hometown Canadiens marked not only a victorious homecoming, but perhaps a moment the Leafs will look back on as a watershed mark in the 1992-93 season.
Not only did they beat a top NHL club on the road in their fourth game in six nights, but they did it with their coach’s pride on the line.
It was because of how his players performed in an emotional, pressure-packed game that Burns got to make that long walk across the ice from the visitors bench to the visitors dressing room and do it with his head high and to the cheers of the Montréal fans.
A pat on the back for each of his players, and a quick wave to the fans before disappearing under the stands was how Burns symbolically severed his final links with the fabled franchise.
“Their team went out and worked for him,” said Burns’ successor, Jacques Demers. “I’m glad for Pat. They had the desire to win.”
Burns played down the game all week, a necessary task since the Leafs had to face Detroit, Vancouver and San Jose before finally getting to confront his former team. But it was a game he has had on his mind for months.
“I thought about it a lot during the summer,” he said. “Nobody would let me forget it.”
In his post-game press conference Burns looked exhausted and, incredibly, ran out of things to say to a quote-hungry media mob.
“It was a very emotional game for everybody, even the fans,” he smiled.
While the Leafs did come through for their coach and kept their undefeated road streak alive at a heady six games, they did it in a way that might have earned Burns one of those ulcers he’s always talking about.
The visitors stormed out to a stunning 4-0 lead, then proceeded to almost blow it before finally holding off a Montréal team that only showed up for the third period.
With the Montréal net empty for the final 90 seconds, the Leafs needed a pair of heads-up clearing efforts by defenceman Dave Ellett to move above the .500 mark for the first time since December 1.
“(Burns) can’t play the game for us, but he was behind us all the way and I’m glad we could win it for him,” said centre Doug Gilmour, brilliant again with a two-goal, one-assist effort.
John Cullen, Mark Osborne and Wendel Clark added the others for the Leafs.
Ex-Leaf Vincent Damphousse, Benoît Brunet and Mike Keane, with two, scored for Montréal.
A pair of mistakes by a slumping Habs goalie Patrick Roy, the solid early goaltending of Grant Fuhr and three second-period goals helped the Leafs forged their four-goal lead by late in the second period.
Roy flubbed Clark’s routine first-period wrist shot and made a botched clearing attempt that led to the first of Gilmour’s goals that put the Leafs ahead 2-0 early in the middle period.
A brilliant solo dash by Todd Gill, an offensive force of late, and a deflection of a Gill shot by Gilmour gave Toronto a 4-0 lead by 16:23 of the second.
But Brunet scored late in the second period on a deflection to cut Toronto’s lead to 4-1 and breathed life in to the stumbling Habs.
The Leafs killed off three power plays early in the period, including one two-man advantage, but couldn’t stop a hard-charging Montréal club from cutting the lead to 4-2 halfway through the third when Keane’s 50-foot wrist shot glanced off Fuhr’s catching mitt.
Story originally published in The Toronto Star, January 10, 1993; image property of Sportsnet
TOR PEN – 02:56 – Krushelnyski, roughing
MTL PEN – 02:56 – Muller, roughing
TOR GOAL – 05:44 – Clark (Cullen, Lefebvre)
TOR PEN – 08:05 – Tomlinson, high sticking
TOR PEN – 11:31 – Cullen, roughing
MTL PEN – 11:31 – Carbonneau, roughing
MTL PEN – 07:56 – Schneider, interference
TOR PP GOAL – 08:56 – Gilmour (Cullen)
TOR PEN – 11:59 – Gill, holding
TOR GOAL – 14:13 – Gill (Gilmour)
MTL PEN – 14:44 – Muller, holding
TOR PP GOAL – 16:23 – Gilmour (Gill, Cullen)
MTL GOAL – 19:15 – Brunet (Brisebois)
TOR PEN – 19:43 – Clark, hooking
TOR PEN – 01:12 – McLlwain, hooking
TOR PEN – 04:35 – Clark, boarding
MTL GOAL – 09:25 – Keane (Lebeau, Schneider)
MTL GOAL – 12:27 – Keane (Lebeau, Desjardins)
TOR GOAL – 17:39 – Osborne (Borschevsky, Krushelnyski)
MTL GOAL – 18:09 – Damphousse (Bellows, Muller)
TOR – Fuhr (W, 23-27)
MTL – Roy (L, 23-28)
SHOTS ON GOAL
TOR – 10+15+3 = 28
MTL – 11+6+10 = 27
TOR – Goaltenders: Grant Fuhr. Defence: Dave Ellett, Todd Gill, Sylvain Lefebvre, Jamie Macoun, Dmitri Mironov, Bob Rouse (A). Forwards: Glenn Anderson, Ken Baumgartner, Bill Berg, Nikolai Borschevsky, Wendel Clark (C), John Cullen, Doug Gilmour (A), Mike Krushelnyski, Dave McLlwain, Mark Osborne, Rob Pearson, Dave Tomlinson.
MTL – Goaltenders: Patrick Roy. Defence: Patrice Brisebois, J.J. Daigneault, Éric Desjardins, Donald Dufresne, Lyle Odelein, Mathieu Schneider. Forwards: Brian Bellows, Benoît Brunet, Guy Carbonneau (C), Vincent Damphousse, Todd Ewen, Mike Keane, Stéphan Lebeau, John LeClair, Kirk Muller (A), Mario Roberge, Ed Ronan, Brian Skrudland.
⭐ Doug Gilmour (TOR)
⭐⭐ Todd Gill (TOR)
⭐⭐⭐ Stéphan Lebeau (MTL)