Canadien goalie Patrick Roy left the ice at the Montreal Forum Wednesday night to a standing ovation from a sellout crowd of 17,891, cheering not only his 5-2 victory over the Kings but also the record he had tied--25 consecutive home games without a defeat.
No Canadien goalie had done that since Bill Durnan went 22-0-3 in the 1943-44 season.
Roy left with a game puck in hand, one fetched for him by teammate Larry Robinson. And he left that happy scene to go home to his new son, Jonathon, who was born at 6:18 Wednesday morning.
A wonderful day for the only goalie in the National Hockey League to make it to these final days of the regular season without losing on his home ice.
He is 23-0-2 at the Forum--despite playing his record-tying game on only four hours’ sleep--and the Canadiens have the league’s best record at 48-17-7.
“That’s all very nice,” goalie Kelly Hrudey of the Kings said. “I’m happy for his record. I’m happy for the baby. That’s all very nice trivia, and I’m sure it makes for very nice stories. But the fact that he had just four hours’ sleep really didn’t have a whole lot to do with how the game went.
“We didn’t exactly sit in here between periods and say, ‘Oh, boy, I wonder how if feels for Patrick to be thinking about his baby and playing with just four hours’ sleep.’ That didn’t affect the way we played. How about our guys? We haven’t been getting too much sleep either.”
The Kings were playing their fourth game of a four-game trip that started at Vancouver, took them farther east to Edmonton, and then all the way to Quebec and Montreal. Long plane rides and long bus rides. It was quite an awakening for Hrudey, who was playing with the Islanders until a month ago.
“I certainly don’t like to make excuses, but I think we slowed down a little as the game wore on,” Hrudey said. “This is much more grueling than what I’m used to. Being on the Islanders, we had such easy trips. The Kings have covered the country in the last 10 days.”
As for the distraction of the baby, Hrudey’s wife, Donna, is due with their second child. He was looking forward to a couple of days with his wife and his 3-year-old daughter, whom he has not seen in three weeks.
“None of that has anything to do with the game,” Hrudey said of the delivery. “Roy won because he’s a good goalie and because he made some good saves and because he’s playing with a very good team. It’s always a team effort. Any game I’ve ever won had a lot to do with the way my team was playing.”
The Kings, whose record is 37-29-2, were making no apologies for the way they played Wednesday night as they finished the regular-season series against the Canadiens 0-3. The Kings are still in the running for second place in the Smythe Division--still in second place by two points after Edmonton lost to Detroit Wednesday night--and in a couple of weeks all that will matter is who has home ice for the playoffs.
Even Wayne Gretzky said that he thought the Kings “ran out of steam” in the last half of the game. The Kings were holding their own before Chris Chelios and Mike McPhee gave the Canadiens some breathing room in the third period.
“If we could meet them again (in the Stanley Cup final) it wouldn’t matter at all what the season series was,” Gretzky said. “It wouldn’t matter one bit.”
It was obvious that the Kings were neither awed nor overwhelmed by the Canadiens.
The Kings’ defense played evenly with Montreal’s throughout most of the first period. But when Marty McSorley got the Kings’ first goal with 2:22 left--scoring on a pass from Gretzky, who was coming around from behind the net--Montreal began to penetrate.
Less than a minute later, Guy Charbonneau knocked Luc Robitaille off the puck and stole it right in front of the Kings’ net, swirling back around to flip it past Hrudey.
Still, Coach Robbie Ftorek called the Kings’ first period “excellent.”
The Canadiens went ahead, 3-1, in the second period. Mats Naslund scoreed 15 seconds into the Canadiens’ first power play on a rebound of a long shot by Chris Chelios. Naslund’s shot hit the right post and ricocheted behind Hrudey. After Doug Crossman’s clearing pass hit an official and was carried back into the Kings’ zone, Bob Gainey scored on a rebound while Hrudey was on the ice from stopping the first shot.
The Kings came back within a goal when Dave Taylor took the puck away from Rick Green and flipped it past Roy at 16:06 of the second period.
The Kings went into the third period behind, 3-2, and as Ftorek said, they were staying with Montreal pretty well. “We just weren’t able to put them away,” Ftorek said.
Pat Burns, the Canadiens’ rookie coach, doesn’t think it far-fetched that these teams might meet in the Stanley Cup final.
Burns, who coached the Hull junior team owned by Gretzky before moving to Montreal, said the Kings’ star predicted that Burns would one day coach in the NHL.
Burns told the Montreal Gazette: “Wayne was the first to ever tell me that I’d coach in the NHL. I said, ‘Get out of here.’ He said, ‘No, I’ve watched you work for two years and you’ll be in the NHL.’ ”
Gretzky was right about that.
Burns added: “The first guy who sent me a telegram when I got the (Montreal) job last summer was Wayne. It said, ‘See you in the Stanley Cup final.’ Wayne’s scary sometimes with his predictions.”
Citing a “schedule conflict,” the Kings announced Wednesday night that individual game tickets for the first round of the playoffs will not go on sale Saturday night to fans in attendance at the game against Calgary as previously planned. Instead, they will go on sale for the first time at 10 a.m. Sunday at the Forum, when tickets will be available to the general public.
There is talk in Canada--not confirmed by anyone in the Kings’ organization--that the Kings are moving their training camp next fall to either Hamilton (a city with a 15,000-seat arena that has been used for the Canada Cup and a city trying to get an NHL franchise) or Hull (site of the minor league team owned by Wayne Gretzky).
The Hull Olympiques’ colors were yellow, white and blue until Gretzky bought the team. He changed the colors to black, white and silver. Sound familiar? . . . Gretzky’s regular line of Mike Krushelnyski and Mike Allison was broken up Wednesday night because Allison had a sore knee. Chris Kontos skated in his place. . . . The Kings are returning to Los Angeles today, where they will play one game at the Forum--Saturday night against Calgary--before going back to Canada for more head-to-head Smythe Division competition at Edmonton and Calgary.