Game 636 – Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 3 (OT)

Game 636
Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 3 (OT)
Saturday, December 5, 1998
Centre Molson, Montréal, Québec

Alain Vigneault stood there, his face drained of colour, trying to say all of the right things – but what was he really thinking?

What’s there left to say when, in back-to-back games, one point slips away with time running out and then, horrors, two more disappear into the mists – as they did in this 4-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs 34 seconds into overtime?

What can you say after you’ve said you’re sorry, eh?

One thing Vigneault didn’t say was that young Brett Clark’s horrendous error on the Canadiens’ blue line led to Tie Domi’s tying goal with only 2:30 remaining in regulation time. What he also didn’t say was that Patrick Poulin, who scored a shorthanded goal that locked up this game at 2-2 in the second period, allowed a pass from a Leafs attacker to slip through his skates, following which the puck fell on the stick of a chap named Tomas Kaberle and whoosh! the long shot caught the back of the net for the overtime winner.

“It’s a game of errors,” Vigneault said, “and the team that makes the least amount usually gets by. I know that we had two unbelievable chances to make it 4-2 (a goal by Martin Rucinsky lifted the Canadiens into what appeared to be an insurmountable lead in the eighth minute of the third period) and we didn’t put it in.

“I’m not going to carve up Brett Clark,” Vigneault added. “He’s a young player and I’m sure he’s going to be a very good player.”

Vigneault is dead right about Clark, who will be 22 two days before Christmas, if only because he was one of the very few players prepared to face the music in the deathly quiet and near-empty Canadiens room. Clark was also considerably less charitable than his leader about the error that led to the Domi goal.

“I take responsibility for it,” a shaken Clark said. “Things happen. It was my fault.”

Said Vigneault: “Individuals make mistakes. We lose as a team.”

The Canadiens should have won as a team after scratching back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits on Toronto goals from Daniil Markov and Dmitri Yushkevich on second-period goals from Shayne Corson and Poulin. They had outshot the Leafs by a generous 22-14 margin in the first two periods, and while they stormed back with an 11-6 margin of their own in the third, the Leafs, as a team, didn’t appear to be exerting the kind of pressure a team needs to storm back for the tying goal with fewer than three minutes remaining in the game and then jumping on the winner so soon into the overtime. The fact is Curtis Joseph kept them alive before and after the Canadiens had taken their 3-2 lead in the third period.

Vigneault knows it, and so do his young bloods.

“I really believe going into this stretch (the Canadiens are on the road for 10 of their next 13 games) this could have been a major turning point for us,” Vigneault said. “Some guys are coming back. A win tonight could have been a great confidence builder,” he said.

You should know that last night, the Leafs got a little help from a friend for their first goal. Name: Vladimir Malakhov.

Markov, who eventually was credited with the goal, was the last Leaf to touch the puck. Malakhov? He carried the puck into the net with him while Hackett was somewhere out there.

Not to worry, though. The Canadiens’ big break came when the Leafs were whistled down with penalties to Hendrickson and Yushkevich, leaving the home boys with a two-man advantage for 49 seconds. There were only 22 seconds left when Corson slipped the puck under Joseph from a step outside the crease.

The Markov goal came on the Leafs’ fifth shot, followed five minutes later by Yushkevich’s go-ahead goal – this time with Patrice Brisebois in the penalty box.

There was nothing stylish about most of this game. More than anything, it was a matter of two hard-working teams scratching and clawing for some open space and not getting it. It’s why, for example, the Leafs were held to 14 shots in the first two periods, and while the Canadiens were delivering 22 at Joseph, along with a couple of struck posts in the first period, nothing was to be easy on this night. Not for the Leafs, who were missing a flow to their game, and not for the Canadiens, with Joseph on top of his game.

Story originally published in The Montréal Gazette, December 6, 1998

1st Period
MTL PEN – 13:39 – Ulanov, tripping

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 00:48 – Markov (Yushkevich, Korolev)
TOR PEN – 01:51 – Hendrickson, holding
TOR PEN – 03:03 – Yushkevich, tripping
MTL PP GOAL – 03:29 – Corson (Brunet, Malakhov)
MTL PEN – 06:04 – Brisebois, holding
TOR PP GOAL – 06:50 – Yushkevich (D. King, Johnson)
TOR PEN – 07:32 – Korolev, hooking
MTL PEN – 09:52 – Koivu, hooking
MTL SH GOAL – 11:20 – Poulin (Rucinsky, Quintal)
MTL PEN – 14:05 – Nasreddine, holding
TOR PEN – 16:15 – Tremblay, hooking

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 01:33 – Brunet, high sticking
MTL PEN – 03:54 – Weinrich, hooking
MTL GOAL – 07:22 – Brunet (Rucinsky, Quintal)
TOR GOAL – 17:30 – Domi (Hendrickson)

TOR GOAL – 00:34 – Kaberle

TOR – Joseph (W, 25-28)
MTL – Hackett (L, 22-26)

TOR – 3+11+11+1 = 26
MTL – 5+17+6+0 = 28

TORGoaltenders: Curtis Joseph. Defence: Sylvain Côté, Tomas Kaberle, Danny Markov, Jason Smith, Yannick Tremblay, Dmitri Yushkevich. Forwards: Sergei Berezin, Tie Domi, Darby Hendrickson, Mike Johnson, Derek King, Kris King (A), Igor Korolev, Alyn McCauley, Fredrik Modin, Mats Sundin (C), Steve Thomas (A), Garry Valk.
MTLGoaltenders: Jeff Hackett. Defence: Patrice Brisebois, Brett Clark, Vladimir Malakhov, Alain Nasreddine, Stéphane Quintal (A), Craig Rivet, Igor Ulanov, Eric Weinrich. Forwards: Benoît Brunet, Shayne Corson, Jonas Hoglund, Saku Koivu, Trent McCleary, Patrick Poulin, Mark Recchi (A), Martin Rucinsky, Brian Savage, Turner Stevenson.

TOR – 15-9-2 (.615)
MTL – 8-14-3 (.380)


Tomas Kaberle (TOR)
⭐⭐ Martin Rucinsky (MTL)
⭐⭐⭐ Dmitri Yushkevich (TOR)