Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 2
Saturday, April 17, 1999
Centre Molson, Montréal, QC
Sergei Berezin does not chew tobacco. Considering the health risks involved, this is a good thing.
But when he walked out of the Maple Leafs dressing room looking as though he had a huge wad in his right cheek and didn’t, that was not a good thing.
As badly as the Leafs felt about last night’s 3-2 loss to the Montréal Canadiens in their last game of the regular season, nobody felt worse than Berezin, who spent a large portion of last night with a bag of ice propped against his face.
Berezin left the game late in the second period after Canadiens defenceman Craig Rivet hit him in the side of the face with his stick.
Swatting at the puck baseball-style behind the Canadiens net, Rivet swung with such force that his stick broke at the blade before coming up and hitting an unsuspecting Berezin in the side of the head.
And while nobody with the Leafs was about to anticipate the worst, Berezin was due to be examined today to determine whether or not he has a broken cheekbone, a broken jaw or both. If that happened, it would be disastrous to the Leafs to lose their 37-goal scorer just before the playoffs.
“If it’s possible to play I will do everything I can to play,” said Berezin, who scored at the 1:55 mark of the first period. “The last game of the regular season…it can’t be worse.”
Leafs coach Pat Quinn wasn’t especially pleased with his team’s play, but was livid at the work of referee Dave Jackson, who inexplicably didn’t penalize Rivet for the reckless use of his stick.
“The guy swings his stick like that and he was doing it all night,” Quinn said.
“When he goes back for the puck, that’s the only way he protects himself and usually guys who do that are scared. He hits our guy in the bloody jaw and we might have a broken jaw and that’s what’s irritating about it.
“These guys swing their sticks in the hope that nobody comes near them. That’s why they do it. If you hit somebody that’s careless use of the stick and that should be penalized. If the referee’s not calling it, it doesn’t work.”
For his part, Rivet was contrite about the incident. During one stoppage in play, he told Leaf winger Derek King to send his apologies to Berezin.
“I sure hope (Berezin) doesn’t miss any time in the playoffs because I know he’s one of their key players,” Rivet said. “I’d hate to see anything like that happen.”
As for the game itself, the Leafs played a decent first period, but seemed to lose interest sometime during the second.
Goals by Berezin and Sylvain Côté in the first put the Leafs up 2- 1, but there was an awful lot of cruising through the final two periods.
Jason Dawe, Martin Rucinsky and Brian Savage scored for the Canadiens, who finished the season at 32-39-11 for last place in the Northeast Division and won the season series with the Leafs by a 3- 2-0 count.
“There were two goals we were sound asleep on,” Quinn said.
“The faceoff goal, which was the ultimate winner and the second one which ‘Cujo’ probably put in himself.
“It was two simple plays. I guess I shouldn’t be upset about it, maybe it’s the wrong time to do it, but I am.”
As upset as Quinn was with Game 82, the previous 81 were more successful than even the most ardent Leaf optimist could imagine.
The Leafs finished the season with a 45-30-7 record for second place in the Northeast and fourth overall in the Eastern Conference.
The Leafs led the league in goals with 268 and had six 20-goal scorers.
Quinn should receive serious coach-of-the-year consideration and Curtis Joseph will get support for both the Vézina and Hart trophies.
And while last night’s loss was meaningless in the standings, it did drop the Leafs to a very ordinary 25-26-5 mark against Eastern Conference teams.
Of even greater concern is the fact the Leafs were 1-3-0 against the Philadelphia Flyers and 1-3-1 against the Boston Bruins this season and will face one of those teams in the first round of the playoffs.
Story originally published in The Toronto Star, April 18, 1999
TOR GOAL – 01:55 – Berezin (McAllister)
TOR PEN – 03:44 – Domi, roughing double minor
MTL PP GOAL – 04:06 – Dawe (Corson, Quintal)
MTL PEN – 09:30 – Corson, interference
MTL PEN – 12:04 – Ulanov, tripping
TOR GOAL – 18:32 – Côté (Perreault)
MTL PEN – 18:54 – Stevenson, tripping
TOR PEN – 01:33 – Sullivan, hooking
MTL GOAL – 05:26 – Rucinsky (Hoglund, Quintal)
MTL GOAL – 08:21 – Savage (Zubrus, Koivu)
MTL PEN – 09:50 – Ulanov, hooking
TOR PEN – 10:27 – Perreault, cross checking
MTL PEN – 10:27 – Zubrus, cross checking
TOR PEN – 12:36 – Perreault, roughing
MTL PEN – 12:36 – Corson, roughing double minor
MTL PEN – 19:55 – Ulanov, holding
MTL PEN – 20:00 – Corson, misconduct
MTL – Hackett (W, 25-27)
TOR – Joseph (L, 13-16)
SHOTS ON GOAL
MTL – 7+5+4 = 16
TOR – 12+5+10 = 27
MTL – Goaltenders: Jeff Hackett. Defence: Patrice Brisebois, Scott Lachance, Stéphane Quintal, Craig Rivet, Igor Ulanov, Eric Weinrich. Forwards: Shayne Corson, Jason Dawe, Jonas Hoglund, Saku Koivu, Trent McCleary, Patrick Poulin, Martin Rucinsky, Brian Savage, Turner Stevenson, Scott Thornton, Sergei Zholtok, Dainius Zubrus.
TOR – Goaltenders: Curtis Joseph. Defence: Bryan Berard, Sylvain Côté, Alexander Karpovtsev, Danny Markov, Dmitri Yushkevich. Forwards: Sergei Berezin, Tie Domi, Mike Johnson, Derek King, Kris King, Chris McAllister, Fredrik Modin, Yanic Perreault, Steve Sullivan, Mats Sundin (C), Steve Thomas, Garry Valk, Todd Warriner.
⭐ Stéphane Quintal (MTL)
⭐⭐ Sylvain Côté (TOR)
⭐⭐⭐ Eric Weinrich (MTL)